Screening vs. Testing for Dyslexia: Understanding the Importance and Failings of the System

Increase Nationally In Dyslexia Screening & Testing of School-Age People

If you have dyslexia there is a high probability that one of your children or more might also. That is why we need to talk about the latest updates in screening and testing.

I am one of the luckiest dyslexics in the world. Somehow in a town of 543 people in rural northern Minnesota my kindergarten teacher, who had been teaching for well over 20 years, was my personal dyslexia screener. She knew that I was processing and thinking differently than my fellow students and she was BRAVE enough to tell them. I couldn’t do the rabbit ear shoe-tying method of tying my shoes. “Right over left, around the top and through the hole, pull it tight.” I could not figure out my left and right. She also noticed that I had a really hard time sounding things out. If it were not for her wisdom, who knows where I would be today? Maybe in prison, and feeding that multi-billion dollar industry like many dyslexics and people struggling with neurodiversity. But, I am not. I am here, helping other people embrace this different way of thinking and processing.

If you do a search of dyslexia screening in schools right now you will find a wide vanity of articles from around the country. I read four of them. One from Maine, Florida, Texas, and California and yes they were dripping with political opinions, but they were all also talking about the same thing. The role out of their state’s newly passed bills, championed by parents whose children had been left behind and abandoned by a school system that was trying hard to do its best, but was not using a science and results-proven system and so they were failing themselves and their dyslexics. This is a really big thing. Science has known and proven for over fifty years the importance and value of early easy screening and yet it has been unable to get that knowledge embraced by the educational system. The shift has started and the reality is this is something new for school systems and teachers and not all of them are excited about change. Please have grace and patience while they embrace and make this a part of their everyday culture. Please support them in any way that you can.

Here Is A Quick and Simple Review of What Dyslexia Is.

Dyslexia is a complex learning disorder that affects reading and language skills in individuals. It can be challenging to identify and diagnose, leading to the need for screening and testing processes. However, the current system faces certain shortcomings that hinder effective diagnosis and support for those with dyslexia. Let’s explore the differences between dyslexia screening and testing, why both are crucial and what has gone wrong in the system.

Dyslexia Screening and Testing: Understanding the Process

Screening tests are designed to identify individuals who may have dyslexia, providing an initial indication of potential difficulties. These screenings are often administered by teachers or Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCo) and serve as a first step toward obtaining a full diagnostic assessment. In contrast, dyslexia testing involves comprehensive evaluations performed by professionals, utilizing various tests to confirm the presence of dyslexia and determine its severity.

Detailed explanation of screening tests for dyslexia –

– Dyslexia IDA: Testing and Evaluation
– Tests for Dyslexia
– BDA Dyslexia: Dyslexia Screening
– Dyslexia Help: Dyslexia Evaluation in School

The Importance of Both Screening and Testing

Both dyslexia screening and testing are essential components of the identification process. Screening aids in early identification, as you read at the beginning of this story. That is why is it so important to support your local schools as they work to educate teachers and meet new state and federal guidelines for screening for dyslexia. This screening role out isn’t going to be perfect, it is going to be clunky, but it is progress and it will change young people’s lives and that is what is most important. This early screening allows for timely interventions and support. Moreover, it helps prioritize individuals who may benefit from further evaluation and testing. On the other hand, dyslexia testing provides a detailed understanding of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, ensuring accurate diagnosis and personalized interventions. I have the privilege of reading many of my client’s test results and they are filled with so many interesting details about their brains and how they process. Here they are adults and that test from second or third grade still helps them get grounded in their strengths and really see where the weaknesses are in their thinking. You never grow out of being neurodiverse. Many people can be taught how to read and write and spell, but that doesn’t take away the other processing differences that come with being dyslexic.

The Discrepancy Model of Dyslexia Diagnosis

Even within the dyslexia world of science, there are conversations about change and upgrading the testing models. The discrepancy model, an older diagnostic approach, involved identifying dyslexia based on a significant discrepancy between high IQ and low reading levels. While this model was referenced in many sources, it has faced criticism for its lack of precision and inability to capture the full spectrum of dyslexia. Critics argue that it leads to the exclusion of individuals who may have dyslexia but do not fit the traditional IQ and reading level discrepancy criteria. 

– The Guardian: British Debate on Dyslexia Differentiation

The Flaws in the System

Despite the significance of screening and testing, the dyslexia identification system is facing various challenges:

  1. Inaccessibility of Official Evaluation: There is a lack of accessibility to official evaluations in many educational institutions, preventing some individuals from receiving a proper diagnosis and support. 
  2. Inequitable Distribution: The system disproportionately affects children from lower-income backgrounds, leading to underdiagnosis and limited access to necessary interventions. 
  3. Screening Myths and Harmful Practices: Some dyslexia screening myths have surfaced, causing more harm than good and resulting in reading failure prevention shortcomings.

– EdWeek: Universal Screening for Dyslexia Isn’t Enough
– Vermont Legislature: Four Dyslexia Screening Myths

Let Me Wrap This Up For You

In conclusion, dyslexia screening and testing are both crucial in identifying and supporting individuals with dyslexia. The screening process serves as an initial indicator typically done K-2 grades, while comprehensive testing ensures accurate diagnosis and personalized interventions. However, the current system faces challenges in terms of accessibility, distribution, and harmful practices. It is important to address these issues to improve the overall support and understanding of dyslexia, ensuring that all individuals receive the assistance they need to thrive academically and beyond.

Screening made a huge difference in my life, I can only imagine what it can do in a young person’s life today. Make sure to support your local educators as they implement these new changes and most importantly, make sure that your child is taken care of. 

We are all in this together.


  1. Dyslexia IDA: Testing and Evaluation –
  2. Tests for Dyslexia –
  3. BDA Dyslexia: Dyslexia Screening –,administered%20by%20a%20teacher%2FSENCo.
  4. Dyslexia Help: Dyslexia Evaluation in School –
  5. Dyslexia Help: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 504, IEP General Info –
  6. EdWeek: Universal Screening for Dyslexia Isn’t Enough –
  7. The Guardian: British Debate on Dyslexia Differentiation –
  8. Vermont Legislature: Four Dyslexia Screening Myths –
  9. International Dyslexia Association

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