Evaluation Day

Before you arrive:

Be sure your child has had breakfast and plenty of rest. If your child wears glasses, be sure to bring them with you. If your child takes daily medication for ADHD or another condition, please give the medication just like you would if he or she were going to school. If medication is withheld, your child may not be able to give full attention to the tasks in order to reveal all he/she has learned, which could affect the accuracy and usefulness of our recommendations to you and the school. Because of the length of the evaluation day and limited space in the waiting area, please make other arrangements for the care of small children (siblings) that day.

Day of testing:

Who will evaluate my child? Because our center is a training facility, evaluations may be conducted by a professional full-time staff member and/or a well-trained Graduate Assistant who is in the Literacy Studies PhD program or the School Psychology combined Masters/Education Specialist program at MTSU. Graduate Assistants are carefully supervised by one or more full-time staff members. The supervisor will also participate in the meeting with parents to discuss evaluation results and recommendations.

How long will testing take? Testing appointments typically start at 9:00 a.m. CST with the goal of ending by 1:00 p.m. CST. This includes breaks. This timeframe is approximate, as some students may take less time than others to complete the tasks. A parent or legal guardian is required to be in the building during the entire evaluation.

Will my child be given a break between tests? Children are given a break during the morning session. At that time, they will be offered water and a snack (with parent permission). You are welcome to bring a snack for your child, or your child may choose from snack options at the Center. Children may also be given breaks during other times of the day, as needed, depending on their ability to attend to the tasks and other individual needs.

What kinds of tests will my child be asked to complete? Your child will be asked to complete a variety of tests that examine his or her skills in the following areas (tests given may vary somewhat based on student age and needs):

  • word reading and decoding (your child’s ability to read lists of real words and pseudowords)
  • reading fluency (your child’s ability to read passages of connected text out loud quickly and accurately)
  • reading comprehension (your child’s ability to understand the meaning of passages that he or she reads)
  • listening comprehension (your child’s ability to know the meaning of words and understand passages read to him or her)
  • spelling (your child’s ability to accurately spell words spoken to him or her)
  • sound-symbol knowledge (your child’s ability to connect letters or groups of letters with their sounds)
  • phonological awareness (your child’s ability to recognize and manipulate sounds in spoken words)
  • phonological memory (your child’s ability to remember sounds for a short period of time)
  • rapid naming (your child’s ability to recall names of letters, numbers, colors, or objects)
  • written expression (your child’s ability to compose and produce information in writing; please note: this is not a full evaluation of writing skills)

Please note: We do not administer vision, hearing, or intelligence tests (IQ tests) at the Center.

Potential for Additional Research Tasks: The Center actively conducts research, with multiple projects collecting data at any given time, to help us understand the nature of reading disabilities. These research studies typically involve your child completing additional tests similar to those described above. Your child may also be asked to complete tasks on a computer measuring additional skills. If your child meets criteria to be included in one of these research studies (e.g., is in a specific age range), you will receive a research invitation via email before your testing appointment with a brief overview of that specific study and the additional time it may involve. In order to help accommodate your schedule, the research study activities will be included on the same day that your child is here for testing when he/she participates in relatively short studies lasting about an hour. If the study is relatively longer, your research invitation email will have instructions for scheduling additional appointment(s) as needed. A research team member will explain the research tasks to you and your child on the day that you are here for the research, which may also be the day of testing, so that you can make an informed decision about your choice to participate in the study. Given that part of our mission is to expand the understanding of reading development and share this knowledge with others, we greatly appreciate your willingness to help us accomplish this mission by participating in our research studies. To learn more about the research being conducted through the Center, please see the Research section of our website.

What is the role of parents in the evaluation?

Parent Interview: A few days before your child's evaluation, you will complete a parent interview. During the interview, you should expect to spend thirty minutes to an hour with the evaluator discussing your child’s strengths and weaknesses, medical and family history, educational history (including any interventions received at school or outside school), other evaluations or diagnoses your child may have had, and your reasons for seeking an evaluation at this Center. The evaluator may have questions about paperwork submitted prior to the evaluation (i.e., parent and teacher information forms, previous evaluations, IEP or 504 plan, etc.).

The information provided through the interview allows the Center to develop a more comprehensive picture of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and this information may be included your child’s evaluation report.

When will parents receive the results?

The evaluator(s) will meet with you either in person or by phone approximately four weeks after the evaluation to discuss testing results. This is called a feedback session. The session begins with a discussion of what dyslexia is and what it is not. We will then discuss how your child performed in relation to other students who are his/her age or grade level (i.e., average, above average, below average, etc.). We will also specify which word patterns your child was able to read or spell and which word patterns your child has not yet mastered. We will discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses and whether or not the scores reflect characteristics of dyslexia. The continuum of services and supports available in the public school setting will be explained (if applicable). If your child has characteristics of dyslexia, recommendations will be given for instructional intervention and for accommodations in the classroom. We will provide you with a detailed written report, which summarizes the information above as well as the information shared by the parent and school. You are encouraged to share this report with your child’s school.   

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