There are many mythologies out there in the land of struggling children. Many of the mythologies reside in the assessment corner of the universe.
One of the problems with both dyslexia (and ADHD, for that matter) assessment is there is no agreed upon test, no gold standard x-ray that tells you with absolute certainty, “Yes, this individual does or does not have it.”
I like to think of assessment, whether it is a screening, more moderate or comprehensive assessment, as a weighing of variables. Data comes in and helps tip the scales in one direction or another.
Much of “data” is qualitative, little pieces of information that add up to tell a larger story. Using ADHD, for example, so much of “the diagnosis,” comes from the parents’ telling of the child’s history – how the child does on a day-to-day basis in school, at home and on the soccer field. The child’s history is also important in the assessment of dyslexia.
Such data is virtually impossible to quantify, yet central to how the scales get tilted.
Much of the same is true of a reading disability (dyslexia). I find most of the “gold standard tests on the market that assess reading, spelling and writing have their strengths, but they certainly have their limitations. Assessing writing is particularly problematic.
Good assessment involves a combination of utilizing tests that yield information that help to make informed decisions along with clinical or professional experience.
Almost anyone can be trained to administer many of the tests used in an assessment for the purpose of deriving scores and quantitative data. (I could probably train a college kid to do that.)
Even though scores and data are crucial, professional judgment is an essential component and needs to be factored in to whatever formula is being used to determine a child’s needs.
It’s a weighing of variables that helps in tilting the scales one way or another.