Dyslexia: More Than a Score

By Dr. Richard Selznick  (http://www.drselz.com/blog)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

***Note:  (This blog was published some time ago, but due to a problem with the website it needed to be reposted.  It has been revised.)

I had the good fortune to recently take part on a panel during a symposium on dyslexia sponsored by the grassroots parenting group, Decoding Dyslexia: NJ.  Dr. Sally Shaywitz, the author of “Overcoming Dyslexia” was the keynote speaker.  While talking about assessing dyslexia, Dr. Shaywitz said something that really struck me.  She noted, “Dyslexia is not a score.”

That statement is right on the money.

Scores are certainly involved in the assessment of dyslexia.   Tests such as the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, the Tests of Word Reading Efficiency and the Comprehensive Tests of Phonological Processing, among other standardized measures yield reliable and valid standard scores, grade equivalents and percentiles.  These scores can be helpful markers.  However, the scores often don’t tell the whole story.

Here’s one example:

Jacob, a fifth grader, is in the 80th%ile of verbal intelligence and his nonverbal score is in the 65% percentile, meaning Jacob’s a pretty bright kid.  Jacob’s word identification standard score on the Woodcock was a 94 placing him solidly in the average range, with similar word attack and passage comprehensions scores.  Effectively, both of the scores (Word Identification and Word Attack), placed Jacob just below the 50th percentile, but solidly in the average range.

Jacob’s scores would not have gotten the school too excited.  Yet, here’s what I told the mom.

“There’s a lot of evidence in Jacob’s assessment that suggests that he is dyslexic.  Even though his scores are fundamentally average, he was observed to be very inefficient in the way that he read.  For example, while Jacob read words like “institute,” and “mechanic” correctly, he did so with a great deal of effort.  It was hard for Jacob to figure out the words.  For those who are not dyslexic, word reading is smooth and effortless.  Those words would be a piece of cake for non-dyslexic fifth graders.  They were not for Jacob.”

“Even more to the point, was the way that Jacob read passages out loud.  Listening to Jacob read was almost painful.  Every time he came upon a large word that was not all that common (such as, hysterical, pedestrian, departure) he hesitated a number of seconds and either stumbled on the right word or substituted a nonsense word.  An example was substituting the word “ostrich” for “orchestra.”  The substitution completely changed the meaning.

“Finally, the two other areas of concern involved the way that Jacob wrote, as well as his spelling.  While Jacob could memorize for the spelling test, his spelling and his open ended-writing were very weak.  The amount of effort that Jacob put into writing a small informal paragraph was considerable.  There also wasn’t one sentence that was complete.”

“Even though Jacob is unlikely to be classified in special education, I think he has a learning disability that matches the definition of dyslexia as it is known clinically (see  International Dyslexia Association website:  www.ida.org ).  The scores simply do not tell the story.”

“Dyslexia is not a score.”

Takeaway Point:

You need to look under the hood to see what’s going on with the engine.  With dyslexia, you can’t just look at the scores and make a conclusion.

Conversation about Dyslexia

6:00 PM at Barnes and Noble at the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth, MN, on Tuesday, October22.  Conversation will be driven by the participants that attend.  Topics that are expected to be discussed are signs of dyslexia, potential classroom accommodations, informal assessment verses comprehensive educational evaluation, assistive technology, and more.

 

Workshops

Upcoming Workshops through Duluth Community Ed:

DYSLEXIA:  WHAT A PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW

In this workshop students will learn the definition of dyslexia and reading difficulties including signs/symptoms, accommodations, 504 plans vs. the IEP, and the importance of the paper trail.  Discussion will also include current research, assessment, remediation, and assistive technology.

Location: Denfeld High School                                                                                          When:    Tues. Sept. 25th   ~   6:30-8:30 PM                                                                Cost:      $15.00

To register contact:  Deb Dwyer – 218-340-7393 – dwyers@boreal.org  or http://www.duluthcommunityed.org/

 

DYSGRAPHIA:  WHAT A PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW

This workshop is designed to give parents basic information to help their children succeed in writing.  Dysgraphia, sometimes called disorder of written expression, is a neurology disorder.  We will discuss how to signs/symptoms, assessment, types of remediation, accommodations and technology.  Bring a sample of your child’s writing to class.

Location: Denfeld High School                                                                                        When:    Tues. Oct. 16 ~  6:30-8:30 PM                                                                         Cost:      $15.00

To register contact:  Deb Dwyer – 218-340-7393 – dwyers@boreal.org or http://www.duluthcommunityed.org/

Leveling the Playing Field for Dyslexics

Please join me in signing this petition for Congress to level the playing field for dyslexics in education. The petition was created by the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

Dear Deb ,

Thanks for signing our petition, “United States Congress: Legalize Dyslexia: Grant Accommodations to Dyslexic Students..”

Winning this campaign is now in your hands. We need to reach out to as many friends as we can to grow this campaign and win.

Thanks for your support,

Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

Take the next step: Ask your friends to sign
SHARE THIS PETITION
Don’t just be a signer — be an organizer. Turn your signature into hundreds more by asking your friends to sign. Then they’ll ask their friends. That’s how we win.