State testing time can be very difficult and frustrating for parents of children who have dyslexia. In this video, I discuss state testing, whether or not you should be worried by the results, and some of the emotions you may be dealing with.
Each year, state and standardized testing results cause a lot of anxiety for parents of children with dyslexia! You may be feeling good about how the school year is going, and positive about your child’s grades, when suddenly you receive their state test results, and all of those good feelings go out the window.
In general, state and standardized tests are not a good way to assess a student who has dyslexia. The reason for this is simply due to the nature of dyslexia itself. Instead of accurately assessing a child who has dyslexia, state test results often just show that the child struggles with tests. This makes sense, because we know that this is a common symptom of dyslexia.
Students with dyslexia tend to struggle with tests and exams for several reasons. First of all, students with dyslexia tend to have a difficult time with high pressure exams, and state testing often feels very high pressure to them. Secondly, the normal accommodations that a student with dyslexia has on tests and exams may not be provided on state tests. Additionally, students may be struggling with test fatigue; they are assessed a lot, and they may simply be too tired during the test to focus properly for the length of it.
The reading section of state tests are not designed to assess the reading progress of students who have dyslexia, and as a result, are not an accurate measure of their reading ability. There are assessment methods that do provide information on progress for a student with dyslexia, but they are much different than state tests. Assessments designed with dyslexia in mind typically establish a benchmark for the student at the beginning of the year. For example, a student may be in 5th grade, but it is discovered that they are at a 1st grade reading level. As a result, when the student is tested later in the year, they will be tested at the 1st grade reading level, to see how they have progressed. If a student with dyslexia is below grade level, and simply thrown into grade level reading material on a state test, the results will usually just show that the student cannot currently handle that material, but it will not provide info on progress.
What if my child is in dyslexia tutoring, but they still receive poor state testing results? If your child is receiving tutoring from a qualified tutor who is trained in one of the proven, effective methods for teaching children with dyslexia, such as Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, or others, then they are receiving what they need to make progress. The problem is the method of assessment, and not the tutoring itself. You should continue the tutoring, because this is going to make a tremendous difference in your child’s reading and spelling.
What can I do? If you receive poor state testing results and are feeling discouraged, I would strongly encourage you to speak with your child’s teachers. Your child’s teachers are going to be able to give you a much more complete, holistic view of how your child is doing, rather than just numbers and percentages. If your child is in dyslexia tutoring, speak with their tutor! Qualified tutors are excellent at updating parents on their child’s reading and spelling level, and the issues that they are currently working to overcome.
Finally, keep state testing results in perspective. A child is not the sum of their test results! State tests do not measure intelligence, talent, work ethic, kindness, empathy, or so many other positive attributes.
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