I am a teacher and have an M.Ed. in reading and am IMSE OG trained. I am really interested in providing evaluations for dyslexia but find it a gray area when researching who is qualified to evaluate and diagnose. I'm seeing M.Ed and PhD diagnosing, and even some people offering evaluations that do not have these degrees. I want to make sure I am qualified to do so before I purchase materials and dig into more research. It pains me to hear that families are on waiting lists for a year. Can you advise on qualifications to be able to diagnose dyslexia that will be accepted by school districts for students to qualify for services and accommodations?

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

Good question. There are no specific guidelines, even on the IDA website, that answers your question. I have also found that it differs from school district to school district, quite honestly. I hold an MS in speech-language pathology and a PhD in education with a speciality in language, literacy, and learning disorders. My training as an SLP included courses in psychometric testing and diagnosis of language disorder; and then the PhD training added expertise in reading and writing, which are additional language-based learning areas. In graduate school, we trained under the supervision of a certified clinician and conducted assessments, scored tests, analyzed behavior, triangulated the data, made a diagnosis, and wrote the report. Then, we had a clinical fellowship supervised by a certified clinician -- a minimum of 9 months full-time. So, that was a lot of training before we were 'out on our own.'

In your case, I think it would depend on the training that your program had/you have since had in assessing and diagnosing the reading disorder. When I taught Master's students at the UM School of Education, general education students did not get this type of training. That came in the learning disabilities program.

The other challenge is having the credentials for students' assessments to be accepted by the College Board for accommodations for the SAT/ACT testing. Per the College Board, that testing has to be done by a psychologist. So, if a parent calls me, I always ask whether the student will need SAT/ACT accommodations and if the student has not been tested by a psychologist (which many can get via the school), then they have to go that route. Frequently, they end up coming to me for further assessment regarding the dyslexia diagnosis.

I usually do not have difficulty with school districts accepting my assessments, and we've had college students whose schools accepted our 3LI assessments in order to get accommodations.

In sum, I think you can become an excellent diagnostician with the right training. Perhaps you could partner with a psychologist or SLP whom you know to be good at assessment. At 3LI, Dr. Lauren Katz and I discuss every client we assess. We read each other’s reports for every client. As a result, we are very confident in our interpretation of the data and diagnosis.

Best of luck to you on this endeavour. I agree that it is a problem when we can't get students a timely diagnostic assessment.