Accomodating Struggling Learners

Q. Can I use testing accommodations for my child who is a struggling reader?

A. Unless your child has a documented learning disability, you should comply with the test publisher’s instructions for test administration. Typically, you should test him at the grade level he would be in for his age. This will give you the best information regarding his strengths and weaknesses. From the results, you will know how to adjust your curriculum and what to emphasize in your lesson plans in order to strengthen areas of weakness.

You have several other options for showing evidence of progress. One you may want to consider is a letter of evaluation by a certified teacher or a person with a master’s degree in an academic discipline. (See all options here.) You could test early in the spring to see how well he scores on an achievement test. You are not required to submit these test scores if you choose not to do so. If the composite is low (below the fourth stanine or below 23 percentile), you will have time to arrange for an evaluation and submit an evaluation letter before August 1.

If he continues to struggle and stays behind, I suggest you have him evaluated by special needs professional, a physician, or a psychologist. We always hope our children will mature and “grow out of” their struggles, but that’s not always the case. It’s important to understand your child’s particular learning needs and find solutions before too much time passes. There are many helpful resources available.

If a learning disability is diagnosed, some accommodations that could be made at the direction of a professional may include: additional time; use of a calculator for math if he has dyscalculia; a parent reading test portions if he has dyslexia; a parent transferring answers to the bubble sheet if he has fine motor problems; and allowing use of a laptop if there is an essay and he has dysgraphia.

To find help in your area, check with a local group or co-op that may be able to suggest local resources. HEAV has a list of counselors, testers, and tutors on our website. You may also call the HEAV office at 804-278-9200 to speak with one of our counselors.

Best regards,


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