Diagnostic Tests

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Students who have specialist assessments undertaken using a series of different diagnostic tests. Below is a list of the most common, with a brief outline of what the tests can indicate.

Test List

  1. WRAT 4 presents words out of context and therefore measures letter and word decoding. Sentence Comprehension can also be assessed using WRAT 4. This subtest measures an individual’s ability to gain meaning from words and to comprehend ideas and information contained in sentences.
  2. TOWRE 2 (Test of Word Reading Efficiency 2nd Edition) measures an individual's ability to pronounce printed words and phonemically regular nonwords accurately and fluently. Word reading rate, accuracy and fluency are assessed. The test involves the identification of both real words (sight word efficiency) and non-words (phonemic decoding efficiency) in two separate sub-tests under timed conditions. When the scores are combined, a Total Word Reading Efficiency Index is provided. This gives an indication of an individual’s level of reading achievement when word recognition and decoding skills are combined. The results of this test can be compared to one's WRAT 4 score to indicate whether a student's performance is adversely affected when they are tested against the clock.
  3. GORT5 (Gray Oral Reading Tests – Fifth Edition) is a test in which the reader is presented with passages of text of increasing difficulty. The length of time taken to read the passages is measured and, after each passage has been read, questions are asked. This enables the assessment of prose reading comprehension, accuracy and speed. Scores can be compared with WRAT4 results to see whether reading under time constraints has an impact on comprehension.
  4. DASH (Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting) assesses handwriting skills such as free writing and speed of copying accurately.
  5. CTOPP (Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing) tests phonological processing skills. The test assesses phonological awareness, phonological memory and rapid naming through a series of subtests. A deficit in any one or more of these three areas is regarded as the most common cause of reading difficulties and a potential indicator of dyslexia. Phonological Awareness is an ability to recognise different sounds in words and is assessed through the Elision, Blending Words and Phoneme Isolation subtests. Phonological Memory is assessed by two sub tests: Memory for Digits and Nonword Repetition. The Rapid Naming subtests measure the speed with which an individual can name numbers, letters, colours or objects.
  6. SDMT (Symbol Digit Modalities Test) tests students' speed of visual processing. This test involves the conversion of geometric designs into written and oral number responses. It measures general processing speed, short-term visual memory, visual perceptual skills, visual fixation ability, visual-motor speed concentration, facility with printed symbols and rapid decision making. These are processes closely associated with literacy skills; slow speed of processing is associated with dyslexia.
  7. TOMAL-2 (Test of Memory and Learning – 2nd Edition) assess working memory. Five subtests are administered in total. There are four language related tasks: Digits forward and Letters forward, which measure rote recall of a sequence, as well as Digits reversed and Letters reversed, which measure recall and reverse of a sequence. There is one non-verbal task, Manual imitation, which assesses sequential memory. These supplementary subtests are combined to make up the Attention/Concentration Index. Both individual and composite scores can provide valuable diagnostic information - generally people with dyslexia have a more limited working memory capacity and a weakness in working memory is considered a strong indicator of dyslexia.