I support the special education teachers and students in our county. We are having so many students diagnosed with dyslexia. (I know we have always had them, but now they are being formally diagnosed). I am reading and trying to learn more about dyslexia so we can improve our instructional practices. The question I am not finding answers to is what format for testing academic areas is the best for students with dyslexia. Our general education teachers are willing to change the way they currently test to accommodate our needs, but I am not sure what the best method is. Currently, most academic tests are presented as multiple choice and essay. Our students get the standard accommodations of extended time, small groups, frequent breaks, and questions read aloud. Is there a testing format that is better than others? Fill in the blank with word bank? Short answer? Or should we just focus on teaching them test-taking strategies?

Thank you so much for your help!

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

You ask some really good questions. Quite honestly, you are already doing many of the accommodations that students with dyslexia require. And, as you know, each student is different. Word banks are certainly helpful, as is being able to take in a notecard to help mitigate challenges with memory. Definitely, having questions/answer choices read allowed is helpful. Being able to dictate a response versus having to write it; being able to retake tests perhaps orally; having a study guide ahead of time that pertains to what will be tested! Learning how to study for a test; learning reading strategies to learn/study more effectively. All/any of these may be helpful.

There really is not one formula. It seems to me that you are on the right track with developing a template, a menu, for students with LD/reading disorder/dyslexia when they have to take tests. It is excellent that you report your teachers are on board with this concept of alternative measures of testing.

Ultimately, students’ learning of study/reading strategies and test-taking strategies will be key as there are only so many accommodations that will be allowed on the SAT/ACT for college entrance.

Great question!