Surrey Dyslexia’s Specialist Assessors (APC PATOSS) are highly trained. Their professional qualifications enable them to diagnose dyslexia. They have a wealth of knowledge on dyslexia and the impact this specific learning difficulty may have on literacy, numeracy and other aspects of a student’s life.
Formal assessment provides a detailed picture of a pupil’s learning profile. It considers their general underlying ability, cognitive skills (e.g. phonological awareness, memory, phonological processing speed, visual-motor processing etc.) and attainments in reading, spelling and writing.
Formal assessment is generally about 2 to 3 hours in length and a comprehensive report is written following assessment. This includes a summary of findings, a table of test scores and a conclusion. A diagnosis of dyslexia is given if appropriate.
A valuable aspect of the report is the specific recommendations given for supporting the child at home, in the classroom and with a specialist teacher (if appropriate). Where necessary, the report also highlights relevant exam concessions (Access Arrangements).
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Assessments for Access Arrangements are shorter than full assessments and do not usually assess a child’s general ability; they are not intended to diagnose Specific Learning Difficulties.
Tests are used to determine relevant access arrangements for exams, in consultation with the child’s school as required by the Joint Council of Qualifications (JCQ).
An assessor requires information from school (gathered via a School Questionnaire) because access arrangements must reflect the child’s history of need and normal way of working. Information from parents is also collected via a Family Questionnaire.
It is important to note that, while the assessor will report on appropriate access arrangements, it is solely the school’s responsibility to decide which to apply for, and to make that application.
A written report is produced which includes a summary, table of formal test results and any recommendations for access arrangements, should there be evidence for this. Where necessary, the assessor will complete the relevant sections of ‘Form 8’ as required by JCQ.
“Before my daughter was assessed I hadn’t appreciated how the difficulties she has in the classroom might manifest at home; and I now have a greater understanding and empathy with her. This means I can support her more effectively at home”
Informal assessments are generally carried out in the younger age groups, for example, if a class teacher has noticed that a child finds difficulty in particular aspects of literacy. Lasting only about one hour and using informal techniques and activities, the assessor looks at reading, spelling and writing skills. Diagnosis of dyslexia is not made during informal assessment.
On the basis of the information gathered the assessor will report on the child’s strengths and weaknesses, making recommendations to help inform programmes of intervention.
Handwriting difficulties may impact on a child’s attainments, and assessment of handwriting speed and accuracy, as well as legibility, is often extremely useful.
Samples of handwriting from school are helpful. Both formal and informal tests are used in a handwriting assessment (it is usually about an hour in length), and a short report is produced which may contain referral to an occupational therapist if this is considered to be appropriate.