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Testing a Gifted Child with Dyslexia

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Mary Ruth Coleman, Ph.D.

Q: My fifth-grader has dyslexia and will soon take the ITBS. I would like to know what constitutes valid testing. She tested at the 50th percentile when she took it in four months ago. With her regular school work, she has tests read to her or she reads them aloud and has her reading errors corrected. She also states answers orally and the instructor writes for her. This is in her IEP. She tests at 115 IQ on the Weschler, which I think is low for her as the testing circumstances were poor. No one seems to know how to have her take the ITBS exam so that it will render a valid result. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Your concerns over valid test results for children with dyslexia are on target. With the ITBS, your daughter should have the same modification to support her that she has in the classroom -- her IEP gives her this option. In interpreting the results, the teacher, psychologist, etc., should keep in mind the areas that may be under-represented because of this disability. You may be able to find a private psychologist in your area who has experience with assessing children with learning problems. If so, a full assessment would be great.

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Mary Ruth Coleman is the director of Project U-STARS (Using Science Talent and Abilities to Recognize Students) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coleman has taught in both general and gifted educational programs in both public and private schools.


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