:: dyslexia evaluation ::

What It Is and Why It Matters

When a child is struggling to read, someone will probably suggest that he or she be “tested” for dyslexia. An evaluation is a more accurate word to describe the process of determining if someone has dyslexia.

Evaluation encompasses identification, screening, testing, diagnosis, and all the other information gathering involved when the student, his or her family, and a team of professionals work together to determine why the student is having difficulty and what can be done to help.

Evaluating Student

Why Evaluation Is Important


An effective evaluation identifies the likely source of the problem. It rules out other common causes of reading difficulties and determines if the student profile of strengths and weaknesses fit the definition of dyslexia.

intervention planning

An effective evaluation develops a focused remedial program. Students who have a specific learning disability in reading need a specialized approach to reading instruction to make progress. It is crucial that this instruction begins at the student’s current level of reading skill development, rather than at the student’s grade level. The evaluation helps parents and teachers see which specific skills are weak, and where reading and spelling instruction should begin.


An effective evaluation documents the history of a student’s learning disability. One purpose of this documentation is to determine eligibility for special services, including special education. Documentation is also important for obtaining accommodations in college, or in the workplace.

What is assessed during evaluation?

The following areas should be considered when carrying out an evaluation. 

  • Background Information–Strengths and weaknesses, family history, attendance issues, etc.
  • Intelligence–Oral language abilities (listening and speaking) are considered the best predictors of reading and spelling.
  • Oral Language Skills–The ability to listen to and understand spoken language as well as to express thoughts through spoken language.
  • Word Recognition–The ability to read single printed words.
  • Decoding–The ability to use symbol-sound associations to read & pronounce words (real and nonsense).
  • Spelling–The student’s ability to spell individual words from memory using their knowledge of letter-sound pairings.
  • Phonological Processing–The ability to identify, pronounce or recall sounds
  • Automaticity/Fluency–Measuring

    naming speed of objects, colors, letters and numbers.

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Vocabulary Knowledge 

For more information on what dyslexia evaluations, download the “IDA Dyslexia Handbook: What Every Family Should Know.”

Find a Provider

Review a list of Dyslexia evaluation providers in your area.

Shelly Bayer

Shelly Bayer, PhD

Dr. Shelly Bayer is the Assistant Director for the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at South Dakota State University where she works with faculty and graduate teaching assistants to create a culture of teaching excellence by promoting evidence-based strategies and encouraging professional and personal growth mindsets. Shelly earned her B.A. in English Education from South Dakota State University, her Masters of Education in Literacy (Certified Reading Specialist) from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, and her doctorate in Education Administration – Adult & Higher Education through the University of South Dakota. Prior to her current employment, Shelly taught in public schools in Brookings, SD and Las Vegas, NV. Her educational background combined with her son’s identification as a dyslexic learner inspired her to work to create environments and systems that embrace the strengths of every learner and value each learner’s contributions to the process. Shelly joined the IDA-UMB Board of Directors in April 2018. She was elected as President in July 2021.