Do Schools Test for Dyslexia? | Information and FAQs

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Having dyslexia can be difficult, and students with this condition may struggle to keep up during school. As a result, it would be extremely useful for schools to assess students for dyslexia. This would mean that students who need extra support can be identified and given the help that they need! However, is this really the case? After all, dyslexia is not easily diagnosed!

Schools are able to test students on their cognitive abilities using specific tests at all ages. These tests determine whether students have special educational needs. They can not be used to test for dyslexia specifically because normal schools are unable to officially diagnose dyslexia. Instead, this needs to be done via a diagnostic assessment by a professional.

Schools may not specifically test for and diagnose dyslexia, however they are still able to support students with the condition! Check out the rest of this article to discover how schools support those students who are struggling.

Do primary schools test for dyslexia?

Most primary schools in the UK do not specifically test students for dyslexia. However, other tests are put in place to check whether students are struggling with certain aspects in their learning.

This is done via the phonics screening tests, which require students to identify ‘nonsense’ words. This enables teachers to discover which students may be struggling with literacy and as a result, may need extra support.

However, this test is not as extensive as the dyslexia screening process, which can be used to discover whether a pupil really does have dyslexia. More information about primary schools assessing for issues related to dyslexia can be found in this article from the British Dyslexia Association’s website.

If a student is identified as possibly having dyslexia or if a parent has their own concerns, the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)would need to be notified. They may choose to then do different tests on the child to see what they struggle with.

However, it must be reiterated that the school cannot diagnose dyslexia. These tests are only carried out so that teachers can identify the support that the pupil will need to not fall behind.

To officially diagnose dyslexia, a student must be tested by a professional assessor. This can be read about in more detail if you visit this article from the British Dyslexia Association’s website.

Do secondary schools test for dyslexia?

Schools themselves do not tend to test specifically for dyslexia. However, teachers may be able to identify whether a student seems to be struggling and can then offer them support.

Schools could also notify the children’s parents of their concerns and suggest that an assessment should be taken. However, similar to primary school, the teachers’ main concerns will be putting effective support into place.

As a result, it is advised that teachers of the pupil and a SENCo work together to analyse the pupil’s work and their progress throughout the years at school. As a result of this, they will then be able to identify potential resources the student may benefit from and give them the correct support.

Therefore, even though the school may not specifically test for dyslexia, they can test whether the student may need special educational needs support. This is discussed in more detail in this guide from the government website on pages 99-101.

Can schools diagnose dyslexia?

As already mentioned, normal teachers from schools cannot diagnose dyslexia. They only give students tests and assessments to monitor if they are struggling in school, so that they can then offer support.

Instead, if you want to have an official diagnosis, you will have to visit a professional. For example, this could be an educational psychologist who is external to the school. They would then carry out a diagnostic assessment.

This is quite rare, however some schools may have a qualified specialist dyslexia teacher. This teacher could then carry out the diagnostic assessment and diagnose the pupil. However, this is not common and most likely, you will have to be diagnosed by a professional not related to the school.

You can discover more about these assessments if you check out this page from the NHS website.

You do not actually need to have an official dyslexia diagnosis to get extra support in school. Therefore, it is not compulsory for a child suspected of having dyslexia to be tested. Regardless, it is recommended.

Should you get officially tested for dyslexia?

Even though schools will offer you support if you are struggling, regardless of whether you are officially diagnosed or not, it can still be useful to get officially tested. This is because it allows specialists in dyslexia to fully assess the pupil and specifically pinpoint what they are struggling with.

As a result, they can help the pupil’s teachers understand what they are struggling with and what interventions they may need to help them progress.

Do schools have to test for dyslexia?

As already hinted at, schools do not specifically test for dyslexia because they can not make an official diagnosis. Instead, they test students for special educational needs.

This begins at a young age and is compulsory. This page from the government website details how students are assessed via phonic screening and assessments at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

These tests are mandatory by schools, as it allows teachers to identify which students are struggling so that they can get the support they need. As a result, students are less likely to fall behind as they move up through school.

Therefore, schools do not have to test for dyslexia specifically. However, they do have to examine students for special educational needs, allowing extra support to be put into place.

How do you request an assessment for dyslexia?

If you think that you or – if you are a parent – your child has dyslexia, the best thing to do is to talk to a teacher about it. It would also be extremely beneficial to talk to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator of the school, so that you can discuss what next steps would need to be taken.

They could refer the suspected dyslexic student to a specialist in dyslexia to have a formal assessment. Alternatively, you could visit an independent specialist in dyslexia directly. You can find out more about requesting an assessment for dyslexia if you check out this article from the NHS website.

Who can request a dyslexia assessment?

Part of a teacher’s job is to notice when students in their class may be struggling. As a result, it is partly their responsibility to alert the SENCo in the school about whether they believe a student could have dyslexia.

Any professional who works with young children should be alert to the possibility that a student may be struggling. Consequently, they should alert the parents and the SENCo if this is the case and request an assessment. An action plan could then be put in place to decide what next steps should be taken.

This is because under the SEND Code of Practice, a teacher must inform the child’s parents if they are suspected of having dyslexia. You can find more information about this if you check out this article from the British Dyslexia Association.

Parents also have the right to request an assessment if they suspect their child of having dyslexia. Furthermore, the actual student also has a voice, so can also share their concerns about their progress in school.

If dyslexia is suspected by the child themselves or anyone associated with the child, they should be listened to and request an assessment. This is discussed in more detail if you read this guide from the government on pages 94 and 95.

What support is put into place at schools for students with dyslexia?

This page from the government website states how all mainstream schools have to have a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). This professional can be used to assess students and advise teachers on what support these students may require.

Therefore, all students with dyslexia should receive extra help within schools, by all teachers. This is also because the government is committed to developing teachers’ knowledge on special educational needs and improving their strategies on helping students with those needs.

Further to this, the government has set targets for supporting students with dyslexia. For example, they have set the target of making sure that 90% of students leaving primary school will have reached the expected standard of maths, writing and reading by 2030!

School is there to support you and get you through those pesky exams that everyone has to face at some point. If you are still struggling with motivation, check out this article from Think Student for some encouragement.

Do you have to get tested for dyslexia in schools to get extra support with exams?

Students with dyslexia often need extra resources when completing exams in order to reduce their struggles. These are known as access arrangements.

Exam access arrangements are things that are put into place to help students during exams who may have slow processing disabilities. For example, a student may be offered extra time during an exam. This would be useful as time restrictions can be difficult! Check out this article from Think Student to discover the typical time for a GCSE exam.

To have access arrangements during official exams, you do not actually have to be diagnosed with dyslexia. Instead, the decision to be given this extra assistance during exams can be based on evidence your teachers may have compiled.

Therefore, even though schools can’t officially diagnose you with dyslexia, they can give you specific tests to assess whether you may have special educational needs, as previously mentioned. They can also review how you have been working throughout the years.

This would show how the student has progressed throughout school and can provide proof for why a student may need these extra resources to help them take the exams. This evidence must also be paired with findings from the exam centre’s appointed assessor. You can find out more about taking exams with suspected dyslexia if you check out this article from the British Dyslexia Association’s website.

If you are already diagnosed with dyslexia, do you need to be tested by school to get access arrangements?

Surprisingly, having a diagnosis of dyslexia does not mean that you automatically get access arrangements. In fact, the evidence that the school provides about your dyslexia diagnosis is actually most important. This is because it is done in a proper learning environment.

You will also need to have completed tests from the exam centre’s assessor to see if you are eligible for these access arrangements. JCQ actually stated that an independent assessment of a student with dyslexia will not automatically result in access arrangements if this assessment had no consultation with the school.

You can find out more information about this if you check out this link from the British Dyslexia Association’s website, also found above.

What access arrangements are you entitled to if you have dyslexia?

If you are found to have dyslexia or special educational needs which have not been specifically defined, you can be entitled to a range of different access arrangements. This page from AQA details all of the different options you could take.

If you have dyslexia, you could be entitled to 25% more extra time. Some students could also be allowed a scribe or even speech recognition technology! However, this will all be decided by the centre assessor and teachers, as they work out what resources will help you the most.

There are other reasons that you could get extra time in exams. Check out this article from Think Student if you want to discover them.

What is involved in a dyslexia assessment?

Dyslexia can only be diagnosed if the student experiences a diagnostic assessment and shows symptoms which correspond with dyslexia. Often, the assessment will involve observing the student with suspected dyslexia in their usual learning environment and speaking with key teachers.

A series of tests will need to be completed by the student, assessing their reading and writing and how quickly they are able to process information. A report will then be completed by the assessor, describing and explaining the results from the tests.

You can read more about the diagnostic assessment if you read this page from the NHS website. Alternatively, this page from the British Dyslexia Association’s website has some useful information.

If you think that you may have dyslexia, it is nothing to be scared of! If you can, it can be very useful to get a diagnostic assessment done. This will enable you to get the support that you may need. After all, dealing with dyslexia can be difficult when at school, so it is best to reach out for help.

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