We recommend that learners are assessed at regular intervals within the school year to track progress. It is important that assessment cycles are not too frequent, allowing learners to embed progress in between assessments.
There are a number of checks that can really help a school to unpick a learner’s strengths as well as difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.
Good practice includes:
When schools have this picture of a learner’s strengths and weaknesses, then they can meet that learner’s educational needs in the classroom more successfully. The Specific Learning Difficulties Assessment Standards Committee (SASC) produces guidance and resources to help you choose which test tools are appropriate for the learner you are working with.
Literacy Leads may be responsible for co-ordinating the administration of standardised reading and spelling assessments. It may be that following a whole school reading test, additional information will be required in order to choose appropriate interventions at Wave 2. The Driver Youth Trust recommends following a below average score in a standardised group reading test with a single word reading assessment to understand whether the learner’s difficulties fall within decoding or comprehension.
Standardised assessments are generally administered annually. It is important that progress is tracked; for learners with a standard score of 100+, achieving the same standard score a year later suggests the learner is making age-appropriate progress. However, for learners with standard scores below 100, higher scores are the aim in order to close the gap for learners with literacy difficulties through Quality First Teaching and high impact interventions.
A diagnostic assessment is a comprehensive analysis of a learner’s cognitive functions to determine whether an individual’s difficulties relate to a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, and is often conducted by a psychologist or specialist teacher. However, there are many tools that can be used by SENCos or other well trained members of staff to consider whether a full diagnostic assessment should be sought.
Identifying a learner as having dyslexia can be difficult because all learners are different and therefore the way dyslexia affects them is unique. Similarly, the reason a learner has literacy difficulties is not always easy to understand especially when they have relatively well developed skills in some areas but not in others. It is generally agreed that the earlier pupils are identified, the better chances they have to succeed.
There are a number of tools that can help schools determine the likelihood that dyslexia is a potential difficulty. Drive for Literacy encourages:
The process of screening can be quick and easy and very reassuring to staff, parents and learners. A dyslexia screener is a useful tool for establishing whether a learner is showing signs of dyslexia. This is not the same as a full diagnostic assessment conducted by a trained professional, but it can help schools understand some of the areas of difficulty a learner has and the possible reasons why. Bear in mind that:
There are many different types of screener, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. This is important to keep in mind when deciding which to use. Some screening tools can be administered on a computer, allowing screening of a whole class to take place simultaneously.
The Dyslexia Screening procedure outlined below is meant to inform, for guidance purposes. The scores we have suggested as a trigger for dyslexia screening may differ from one school setting to the next depending on the average literacy ability of learners (where average literacy is low, low literacy scores may not be an adequate trigger for dyslexia screening). Schools should consider adapting this for their context.
It should also be borne in mind that this procedure only takes into account reading and spelling standardised scores. It may be that schools investigate learners’ difficulties through other assessments of, for example, speed of processing and verbal memory skills. If so, these should also be incorporated into a school’s dyslexia screening procedure.
Finally, it is important to remember that some dyslexic learners may have developed relatively age appropriate reading and/or spelling skills. Involving other colleagues in the identification process can help to ensure that learners are screened where helpful and appropriate. You may find our staff referral resource helpful to support this process.
The screening tools used by Drive for Literacy, include:
The GL Assessment Dyslexia Screener consists of six subtests that look at the following areas:
This screener can be used with learners from 5 to 16 years old and can be taken by a whole class when accessed online. It lasts about 45 minutes, sometimes longer if a learner does not have confident keyboard skills or has concentration or processing difficulties.
The screener is intended for learners with English as a first language or who have been immersed in an English speaking environment since early childhood. Schools should be wary of screening learners whose spoken and written English is still developing.
Results are shown in colourful graph form, which gives an instant picture of how a learner has done. learners are also assigned to a category if their profile demonstrates traits consistent with a diagnosis of dyslexia. Category B indicates ‘few signs of dyslexia’, Category C indicates ‘mild dyslexia’, Category D indicates ‘moderate dyslexia’ and Category E indicates ‘severe dyslexia’.
You may find our quick guide to analysing results from GL Dyslexia Screening tool useful if you routinely use this screener.
The Lucid Rapid Dyslexia Screener is aimed at learners from 4-15 years and takes about 15 minutes to complete, although it can take longer to screen a larger group of learners using the software from a CD-ROM. Once again this screener looks at the probability of dyslexia and should not be seen as a conclusive assessment.
The Lucid Screener looks at specific areas that learners with dyslexia have typical difficulties with including:
Learners showing signs of dyslexia will typically score better on the non-verbal reasoning and vocabulary tasks compared to the reading, spelling and other tasks. However, every learner’s profile is unique and a thorough analysis of the results in conjunction with case history is always needed.
Experience at the Driver Youth Trust has shown that learners often enjoy the experience of doing the screener, however some younger learners may need support with the instructions and encouragement to have a go when faced with trickier questions.
Here are some helpful tips to bear in mind in planning to use the screener:
If a learner is very puzzled by a question, encourage them to have a best guess, there are often no ‘repeat’ or ‘back to the question’ buttons.
Learners who are working at below the expectation of the National Curriculum must be registered, but should not sit the tests. In this case, the teacher must enter the standards from the Rochford Review.
Parents can ask for a child not to take the test, however the head teacher makes the final decision on who takes end of key stage tests.
The most recent guidance on Access Arrangements for statutory assessment tests at primary is available at:
Advice and links to Access Arrangement guidance: