The Assessment

Dyslexia Assessment

The full diagnostic specialist cognitive (dyslexia) assessment, administered by a specialist teacher/assessor with an Assessment Practising Certificate, uses a number of standardised test batteries to examine three broad areas:

The scores generated on the tests, together with observation, background information from home, school and the assessment candidate themselves, permit me to build a holistic picture and to come to a conclusion regarding the likely origin of any difficulties being experienced.

The Assessor

In order for an Assessment Practising Certificate to remain valid, the assessor must undergo a rigorous three-yearly renewal cycle, requiring (in the first three cycles) submission of a full report to the awarding body, along with evidence of ongoing, accredited training. Test materials are updated as advised by the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC).

This type of assessment is very similar to that of an educational psychologist and employs most of the same tests. Both have their place but, in addition to consistency and rigorous overseeing of the assessor’s practice, specialist assessors normally have the advantage of a teaching background, with psychology and psychometrics training added. Educational psychologists are not usually teachers.


Why Assess?

Dyslexia Assessment for children

We all want our children to be happy, confident and the best they can be – to reach their potential - and it can be disheartening for them and for us as parents and educators when something seems to be getting in the way. Sometimes it is clear that reading and spelling aren’t progressing as well as expected; sometimes, the difficulties are harder to pin down, but we feel that something isn’t quite right.

An assessment is a little like looking under the bonnet of a car: each component is tested and examined and it soon becomes clear which bits are slowing down the car. Once young people, parents and schools understand the areas of strength and challenge, they can all work together to develop strategies for learning, to make adjustments to the learning environment and to source the best support.

An assessment can make a real difference.


The Process

The assessment itself usually takes around three hours, ideally on one, or two consecutive days. It is preceded by a period of information-gathering from home and school and results in a full written report, followed by an hour’s face-to-face, telephone or Zoom consultation. I take great care to build a rapport with the young person and, though test protocols are strictly adhered to, the process itself is light-hearted and informal – some have even reported, fun!

I have a limited number of slots for one-to-one tuition, following assessment.


The Report

An executive summary is followed by background information and a detailed account of the young person's performance. A diagnostic decision is made, leading to recommendations; these may include onward referral to other specialists. The report is usually complete within two weeks of the assessment and it is usual for parents to share the report with the young person's school so that recommendations can be implemented as appropriate.


Fees and Data Protection

For information on fees, please get in touch via the contact form or via email at Dyslexiaassessmentsurrey@gmail.com.

I am registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and electronic copies of reports are held securely, in line with guidance, until the young person reaches the age of 25 years or until it is agreed with the commissioning parent that this is no longer necessary. Only that information which is necessary is retained.


Safeguarding

Where an assessment is carried out on school premises, safeguarding procedures will be followed in line with the institution’s policies. Where an assessment is carried out at my home, the terms of my own safeguarding policy will be adhered to.

I hold a DBS certificate.


Access Arrangements

On occasion, the assessment process will identify challenges in certain areas, these greater than those faced by most young people and having a marked impact on the pupil’s performance as measured by the assessment tests in the one-to-one setting. In this case, I will make recommendations in the report regarding access arrangements. There is a range of accommodations available to schools, including, for example, extra time in examinations, rest breaks and the use of a scribe.

Schools are bound by the regulations of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). Amongst these are the stipulation that an established relationship be built between the school and the assessor prior to any assessment. The school must also hold on file evidence of the assessor’s qualifications. JCQ require that any access arrangements be granted in response to the young person’s longitudinal picture of need and that the accommodations represent the young person’s normal way of working. Because of these regulations, when an assessment is requested, I will always establish contact with the school in advance.

Where an assessment is carried out and a report produced earlier than Year 9, and the school wishes to make an application for access arrangements, a brief update assessment is required by the Joint Council for Qualifications. If the young person’s school is unable to carry this out, I offer a brief update. Details are available on request.


Common Scenarios

The assessment reveals that the young person is found to have above average underlying visual (non-verbal) processing alongside weaker working memory and retrieval of verbal information from long-term memory. Reading accuracy is above average but reading comprehension is at the bottom of the average range. The quantitative evidence, together with the background information and observation of the young person’s approach to particular tests results in a clear diagnosis of dyslexia.

The information-gathering stage of the process suggests that optometrist evaluation is indicated before the specialist assessment and so the assessment is put on hold. Once any ocular-motor difficulty has been treated, the assessment may proceed.

No signs of a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia are uncovered; a detailed report is produced, other explanations for parent/school concern are discussed and recommendations made.

The young person displays signs of challenges in areas which might benefit from evaluation by other specialists. A detailed report is produced, with a rationale for onward referral.

The young person has already been identified as having ADHD, autism or dyspraxia and a specialist cognitive assessment is sought to fine-tune existing recommendations and gain a full picture of cognitive function.


Use of The Report Beyond School

Where a special educational need or disability is confirmed, the report may be used as evidence in an application for Disabled Student’s Allowance at University. It also offers evidence for accommodation in the workplace. There is no need for a full assessment update after Year 9, as long as recommendations remain appropriate to the stage of education or work.

Ages assessed: 8-adult.