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Testing Achievement in Learning Disability Diagnosis


Updated June 24, 2014

Children working in school
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Testing Achievement in Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities:

Achievement testing is an important part of assessment of potential learning disabilities. This achievement testing is typically conducted in a one-on-one assessment session using a standardized test.

What is a Standardized Achievement Test?:

Standardized achievement tests may assess any or all of reading, math, and written language as well as subject areas such as science and social studies. These tests are available to assess all grade levels and through adulthood. The test procedures are highly structured so that the testing process is the same for all students who take them.

How are Standardized Achievement Tests Scored?:

Students' answers are analyzed and scored according to specific guidelines required by the test publisher. The results are calculated into a raw score. Raw scores are converted into standard scores using appropriate tables for a child's age, and in some cases, time of school year. The resulting standard scores provide data to compare the student's abilities to others his or her age. Scores are interpreted using terms such as average, above average, and below average.

How are Achievement Test Results Used?:

Achievement tests are used to determine a student's academic strengths and weaknesses. When compared to intelligence test scores, achievement scores tell whether or not a child has the severe difference in ability and performance that indicates a learning disability diagnosis. These scores also provide important information to help develop the child's individual education program.

Achievement testing can also play a role in an alternative means of diagnosis called Response to Intervention.

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