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Dyslexia Evaluation: Key Components

Parents who suspect their child may have dyslexia, or parents who receive a letter from their school saying that their child may have dyslexia often find themselves confused about dyslexia and what an evaluation for dyslexia looks like. If you “Google” the term dyslexia, the confusion can multiply exponentially. The KLASS Center on the campus of the University of Tennessee relies on peer-reviewed research and evidence-based practices as we think about, evaluate, and treat dyslexia.

In short, dyslexia is a language-based disorder that can impair different areas of academic functioning, but primarily reading and spelling are most impacted. For early elementary students there often are problems with sound/symbol correspondence, sounding out words is difficult, confusion of similar sounding letters is common, confusion of visually similar letters can occur (still related to language), a lot of substitution errors occur, and a lot of problems with spelling are evident. Reading and learning to read is very labored for children with these difficulties.

So, a solid evidence-based evaluation for dyslexia should assess for those areas, and that includes phonemic awareness, sight word vocabulary, basic reading skills, reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling, and listening comprehension (often stronger than reading skills). It’s also helpful to compare the child’s reading skills to his or her math and general writing skills to determine any crossover challenges. Dyslexia can also co-occur with other disorders, more commonly with other learning disorders and ADHD, so it’s important to evaluate the child comprehensively.

Our clinicians are trained to conduct these evaluations, and do so regularly. For more information or to schedule an evaluation, please visit our website at KLASS Center or contact us via email klass@utk.edu or phone 865-974-6177.

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