Cognitive Processing and the WJ III for Reading Disability (Dyslexia) Identification

Posted on April 04, 2014

Cognitive Processing and the WJ III for

Reading Disability Identification

March 5, order 2010

NASP Convention, Chicago

Presenters:  Nancy Mather & Barbara Wendling


  • What is a specific reading disability (dyslexia)?
  • How do Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) Factors relate to reading difficulties?
  • What other cognitive and linguistic factors are important for the diagnosis of dyslexia?
  • Overview of the WJ III Discrepancy and Variation Procedures
  • WJ III Case Study Examples

What is a Specific Reading Disability? 

 Specific Reading Disability = Dyslexia

 International Dyslexia Association (2003) defines dyslexia as:

[A] specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. (Lyon et al. 2007)

Health Council of the Netherlands. Dyslexia: Definition and treatment. The Hague: Health Council of the Netherlands, 1995.

Dyslexia is present when the automatization of word identification (reading) and/or word spelling does not develop or does so very incompletely or with great difficulty. The term ‘automatization’ refers to the establishment of an automatic process. A process of this kind is characterized by a high level of speed and accuracy. It is carried out unconsciously, makes minimal demands on attention and is difficult to suppress, ignore or influence. The working definition used means that dyslexia is characterized in practice by a severe retardation in reading and spelling which is persistent and resists the usual teaching methods and remedial efforts. Upon examination, it will be accompanied by very slow and/or inaccurate and easily disturbed word identification and/or word spelling.

  • Dyslexia: A specific reading disability due to a defect in the brain’s processing of graphic symbols. Dyslexia is a learning disability that alters the way the brain processes written material.

 Overcoming Dyslexia, Sally Shaywitz, 2003             Notes:______________________

Neural Systems for Reading                                               ___________________________

  • Broca’s area: articulation/word analysis                                  ___________________________
  • Parietotemporal: word analysis                                                   ___________________________
  • Occipitotemporal: word form                                                       ___________________________

Neural Signature for Dyslexia                                           ___________________________


  • nterior system is overactivated                                                              ___________________________

Posterior system is underactivated                                                         ___________________________

The diagnosis of dyslexia is as precise and scientifically informed as almost any diagnosis in medicine… In the case of dyslexia, our knowledge of the phonologic weakness and its impact across the lifespan now allows us to make a remarkably informed clinical judgment with a high degree of confidence. In fact, there are times when I wish other diagnoses in medicine could be made with the same degree of precision.” (p. 165)

Source: Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming  dyslexia. New York: Knopf.

Word Blindness

“With the possession of a knowledge of the symptoms, there is little difficulty in the diagnosis of congenital word-blindness when the cases are met with, since the general picture of the condition stands out as clear-cut and distinct as that of any pathological condition in the whole range of medicine” (p. 88).

Source: Hinshelwood, J. (1917). Congenital word-blindness. London: H. K. Lewis.

315.00 Reading Disorder- DSM-5

Proposed  Revision:  Dyslexia

  • Difficulties in accuracy or fluency of reading that are not consistent with the person’s chronological age, educational opportunities, or intellectual abilities. Multiple sources of information are to be used to assess reading, one of which must be an individually administered, culturally appropriate, and psychometrically sound standardized measure of reading and reading-related abilities.

The disturbance in criterion A, without accommodations, significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require these reading skills

Rationale for proposed revision:

  • Name change to dyslexia consistent with international use.
  • Wording needs to be consistent with the change in the U.S.’s reauthorized IDEA regulations (2004) which states that: “the  criteria adopted by the State must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10).”
  • There is little evidence to support the DSM-IV criterion of a substantial discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability  (e.g., Fletcher et al., J Learn Disabil 1992; Vellutino et al J Learn Disabil 2000; Siegel LS, J Learn Disabil 1989; Stanovich KE, Learn Disabil Quarterly 2005; Stuebing K [2002,meta-analysis] Am Education Res Journal).
  • Reading fluency is included as a critical feature of reading acquisition: poor fluency is a key feature of dyslexia in adulthood; also poor fluency is a key feature of dyslexia in languages other than English   (e.g., Bashir & Hook, 2009 Lang Speech Hear Services Sch; Share DL, 2008 Psychol Bull;  Shaywitz,SE et al 2008 Annu Rev Psychol; Shaywitz et al. Biol Psychiatry 2003)
  • Recommend that reading comprehension per se be omitted from DSM-5, because individuals who have specific reading comprehension problems in the presence of good decoding skills, do not meet criteria for dyslexia. Such individuals typically are found to have poor oral language (as in communication disorders). However, specific reading comprehension disorders could be coded under the newly proposed superordinate category of learning disability. Clarification of severity requirements and need for systematic assessment. Severity Recommendations for severity criteria for this disorder are forthcoming.

Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming Dyslexia, p. 58

Hereditary Factors

Strong converging evidence suggests (Shaywitz, 2003):

1. There is a genetic cause for some types of reading disability

2. That deficits in phonemic awareness are the primary hereditary factor

3. That family history is a key indicator of risk

What is Dyslexia?

A problem in developing phoneme-grapheme knowledge that affects the development of automaticity with both basic reading skills and spelling.

  • Slow to understand, make, and retain the connections between the phonemes (speech sounds) and graphemes (letters)

What Dyslexia is Not

A primary problem in reading comprehension- (poor decoding is the primary problem that affects reading comprehension).

  • A language comprehension problem- Listening comprehension is higher than basic reading skills and reading comprehension.

Dyslexia creates a breakdown in the acquisition and application of alphabetic knowledge (phonology and/or orthography) that results in slow, labored reading development, delayed automaticity, and poor spelling. The treatment requires direct, intensive instruction in the alphabetic system, followed by methods to build rate and fluency (Mather, 2000).

 Which CHC Cognitive Abilities are Related to Reading?

 Comprehension-Knowledge (Gc)

  • Research connects Gc to reading: (e.g., Cooper, 2006; Floyd, Evans, & McGrew, 2006; Hammill, 2004; Perfetti, 2007; Shaywitz, Morris, & Shaywitz, 2008; Stanovich, 1986; Torgesen, 2002).
    • Vocabulary
    • Background Knowledge
    • Skilled reading by third grade also depends upon the development of extensive word knowledge (vocabulary).
    • Importance of oral language
      • Primary tool of interacting and learning
      • Language impairments interfere with academics, social, and vocational
      • Don’t outgrow problems, don’t catch up
      • Early intervention is crucial
        • Young children primed to reap benefits
        • At risk for delays in phonemic awareness
    • Mind the Gap
      • More difficult to “close the gap” in broad knowledge and verbal skills than it is to close gap in word reading skills.
      • Tests of reading comprehension at third grade and up are increasingly sensitive to individual differences in verbal knowledge and reasoning.

 Auditory Processing (Ga)

  • Research connects Ga to reading: (Adams, 1990; Cooper, 2006; Ehri, 2000; Felton & Pepper, 1995; Floyd et al., 2006; Shaywitz et al., 2008; Torgesen, 2002)
  • Phonemic awareness was the best predictor of early reading performance–better than IQ, readiness test scores, or socioeconomic level.
  • Early establishment of efficient phonemic decoding skills is critical to the development of later accurate and fluent reading.
  • Many children struggle in learning in acquiring phonics skills because they are slow to develop phonemic awareness.
  • Phonological processes appear to be the core cognitive deficits associated with reading difficulties.

 Long-Term Retrieval (Glr)

  • Research connects Glr to reading (e.g., Cooper, 2006; Floyd et al., 2006; Hammill, 2004; Perfetti, 2007; Shaywitz  et al., 2008; Wolf, Bowers, & Biddle, 2000)
  • Associative memory, required to associate sounds and symbols, paired associate learning
  • Naming facility, often referred to as rapid automatized naming (RAN), is a narrow ability subsumed by Glr

 Processing Speed (Gs)

  • Importance to performance
    • § Cognitive speediness or automaticity (Nettelbeck, 1994; Vernon, 1983)
    • § Frees working memory to deal with more challenging, nonroutine tasks (Ormrod, 1999).
    • Research connects Gs to reading: (e.g., Berninger, 1990; Floyd et al., 2006; Joshi & Aaron, 2000, McGrew, Flanagan, Keith, & Vanderwood, 1997; Shaywitz et al., 2008)
    • Primary process in reading is speed of processing
    • Perceptual speed (similar to orthographic processing)
    • Confirmed link between perceptual speed and basic reading skills and fluency

 Short-Term Memory (Gsm)

  • Research connects Gsm to reading: (e.g., Cooper, 2006; Floyd et al., 2006; Hammill, 2004)
  • Working memory is significant predictor of reading comprehension ability
  • Working memory is required component of reading comprehension
  • Working memory is required when decoding a new word making it less likely the reader will comprehend the new word

 Fluid Reasoning (Gf)  

  • Research connects Gf to reading: (e.g., Floyd et al., 2006; Nation, Clarke, & Snowling, 2002)
  • Does not become fully operative in reading comprehension until child has developed fluency at the word recognition level (Snow, 2002)
  • Verbal reasoning is key component for all reading tasks (Thorndike, 1974)
  • Most children should be able to draw inferences from text by grade 2 (Hall, 1989)

 Visual-Spatial Thinking (Gv)

  • Research has found no meaningful connection between the visual processing tasks found on most intelligence tests and achievement. (when in the mix with all the other abilities) (e.g., Nation et al., 2002; Swanson & Berninger,1995)
  • These Gv abilities should not be confused with the orthographic code processing abilities important during reading (Berninger, 1990) 

 Other Cognitive and Linguistic Factors Important for the Diagnosis of Dyslexia

1. Attention

2. Phonemic awareness

3. Orthographic awareness

4. Rapid automatized naming (RAN)

Many students with dyslexia have trouble with phonological awareness and difficulty connecting sounds to print which results in slow word perception, a delay in developing automatic word reading, and poor spelling.

Early Predictors of Reading    (Source: Ehri, L. (2000). National Reading Panel.


  • Phonological awareness


Letter-sound knowledge

Two Most Important Phonological Awareness Abilities

  • ___________________________________________________________________
  • ___________________________________________________________________

 Dual Route Theory

In the 1970s, the theory of a dual route model was proposed. This theory specified two interactive, yet distinctive pathways for word recognition: an indirect, sublexical phonological decoding route for pronunciation of unfamiliar words alongside a direct, lexical route for automatic recognition of high-frequency words (Coltheart, 1978). A weakness in either pathway could affect the development of reading skills and result in two different subtypes of dyslexia: phonological dyslexia (i.e., difficulty with nonword reading) and surface dyslexia (i.e., difficulty with irregular word reading) (Castles & Coltheart, 1993).

 Double-deficit Hypothesis (Bowers & Wolf)

  • Phonological Skills
  • Naming Speed

“The term, double deficit, emerged as a concrete metaphor to convey at once the critical blow that the combination of both deficits represents.  Just as naming-speed skills predicted word identification, and phonological skills predicted word attack, deficits in both variables would impede both aspects of reading, leaving no compensatory route easily available.” (p.13)

 Source: Wolf, M. (1999).  What time may tell: Towards a new conceptualization of developmental dyslexia.  Annals of Dyslexia, 49, 3-27.

 Triple-deficit Hypothesis

  • Phonological Skills
  • Naming Speed  (Bowers & Wolf)
  • Orthographic  (Badian)

 Phonology and Orthography

  • Phonology: the sounds of a language
  • Orthography: the marks of a writing system, including the spelling patterns
  • Dyslexia can be caused by problems in phonology or orthography or both.


  • Orthographic: the visual representations specific to words (not visual-spatial skills)
  • Orthographic coding: Representing a printed word in memory and accessing the whole word, a letter cluster, or a letter.
  • Orthographic image: Representation of a specific written word in memory .

 Source: Berninger, V. W. (1996).  Reading and writing acquisition: A developmental neuropsychological perspective. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

 Poor Orthographic Processing

  • Reverses letter and numbers
  • Has trouble copying
  • Has trouble remembering sight words
  • Confuses low-image words (e.g., of and for)
  • Has difficulty learning how to form letters
  • Confuses similar-looking letters and words
  • Spells phonetically and violates rules of English spelling
  • Has a slow reading rate and poor spelling into adulthood

What is Rapid Automatized Naming?  (RAN)

  • Measures response time or rapid retrieval for a visual stimulus (objects, colors, letters, or numbers or a combination)

What do Rapid Naming Tests Appear to Measure?

1. Ability to sustain attention to process and name the symbols.

2. Ability to name and discriminate among the symbols.

3. Ability to retrieve verbal labels rapidly.

4. Ability to articulate words rapidly.

What do we know about Rapid Naming?

1. Appears to be distinct from phonology.

2. Predicts word-reading accuracy and speed.

3. Predicts irregular word reading better than non-word reading.

4.  Predicts poor reading across the lifespan.

Slow RAN performance is more related to reading speed than reading accuracy (Georgiou et al., 2008).

In a recent summary regarding RAN findings, Abu-Hamour (2009) reported that:

a) RAN letters and then numbers are the strongest predictors of both reading and


b) RAN appears to be distinct from phonological awareness and accounts for

independent variance in word reading;

c) the contribution of RAN is larger for younger readers and readers with more severe


d) pause time is significantly correlated with reading accuracy and fluency, whereas

articulation time is not;

e) RAN is most highly related to speeded measures of reading; and

f ) RAN is a good predictor of orthographic skills, but not non-word reading skills.

Abu-Hamour, B. (2009). The relationships among cognitive ability measures and irregular word, non-word, and word reading. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson.

“The history of dyslexia research, the heterogeneity of our dyslexic children, and the very complexity of the reading process argue against any single-factor, two-factor, or even three-factor explanation (p.  5).”

Source: Wolf, M. (1999).  What time may tell: Towards a new conceptualization of developmental dyslexia.  Annals of Dyslexia, 49, 3-27.

“People who study the correlates of reading must distinguish between predictors and requisite abilities” (i.e.,indispensable parts)    Hammill, 1999, personal communication

How Can WJ III be Helpful in Identifying a Reading Disability?


  • 1.     Provides measures related to the 5 areas of reading achievement and the cognitive correlates



Key Areas of Reading WJ III ACH WJ III COG
Phonemic Awareness Sound Awareness Auditory Processing(Phonetic Coding)Long-Term Retrieval(Associative Memory& Naming facility)Processing Speed(Perceptual Speed)Short-Term Memory(Working Memory &Memory Span)


Fluid Reasoning

Cognitive Fluency


Phonics(Decoding, Alphabetic Principle) Letter-Word IdentificationWord AttackSpelling of SoundsSpelling
Fluency Reading Fluency
Vocabulary Reading VocabularyPicture VocabularyAcademic Knowledge
Comprehension Passage ComprehensionReading VocabularyOral ComprehensionUnderstanding DirectionsStory Recall

 2.  Helps explore and document strengths and weaknesses

  • What are the individual’s specific cognitive strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the individual’s specific academic strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can the cognitive abilities help explain the academic problems?

Intra-Ability Variation Procedures

  • Intra-cognitive
  • Intra-achievement
  • Intra-individual

3.  Helps document if achievement is commensurate with ability.

 Ability/Achievement Discrepancy Procedures

  • GIA/Achievement (Use full scale GIA-Std or GIA-Ext to predict achievement)
  • Predicted Achievement/Achievement  (Use the most relevant cognitive abilities to predict achievement-based on differential weighting of COG Tests 1-7)
  • GIA/Selected Cognitive Abilities
  • Oral Language Ability/Achievement (Use the Oral Language-Extended cluster to predict achievement)

Case Studies


  • Abby, Grade, college, Age 19-1


Miguel, Grade: high school, Age 15-0

Abby, Grade 13.0, Age 19-1

 Background Information:

  • Identified with reading difficulties in second grade but no services provided
  • Diagnosed with dyslexia in 3rd grade and began receiving SPED services
  • Received special education services until high school then dropped from SPED
  • Enrolled in college but dropped out during first semester due to anxiety over inability to handle academic demands

 Reason for Referral:   Parent request to determine present reading achievement levels and whether Abby has a specific learning disability

Current Test Results

GIA-Extended:         100 (98-103)                        51                   90/90 


STANDARD SCORES            VARIATION          Significant at

VARIATIONS                             Actual   Predicted     Difference   PR      SD     + or – 1.50 SD (SEE)

Intra-Cognitive (Ext)

COMP-KNOWLEDGE (Gc)        107        99                      8               74                      +0.63        No

-T RETRIEVAL (Glr)                    100        99                      1               54                       +0.11         No
VIS-SPATIAL THINK (Gv)         115         98                     17             95                       +1.67         Yes
AUDITORY PROCESS (Ga)        83       101                   -18               4                         -1.74         Yes
FLUID REASONING (Gf)            106      98                      8              82                      +0.92          No

PROCESS SPEED (Gs)                  83       101                   -18              6                         -1.55          Yes
SHORT-TERM MEM (Gsm)      100      99                       1            54                        +0.10          No
PHONEMIC AWARE                     91      102                    -11             16                       -1.00          No
WORKING MEMORY                  92        99                     -7             25                       -0.66           No

 1.)  Abby’s intact cognitive areas:___________________________________________

Any statistically significant strengths?_____________________________

2.) Abby’s cognitive areas of concern:________________________________________

Any statistically significant weaknesses?___________________________

Any infrequent differences noted?________________________________

Additional Cognitive Information:

Cluster/Test    SS (68% range)    PR            RPI          RPI Description

Cognitive Fluency

84 (81-86)




Retrieval Fluency

83 (78-89)




Decision Speed

85 (81-90)




Rapid Picture Naming

88 (85-90)




Phonemic Awareness 3

90 (87-93)




Sound Awareness (ACH)

83 (77-89)




Processing Speed

83 (80-87)




Visual Matching 2

84 (79-89)




Decision Speed

85 (81-90)




 Cognitive Correlates of Basic Reading:

Phonemic Awareness: Her proficiency is_______________________________________

Rapid Naming: Her proficiency is_____________________________________________

Processing Speed: Her proficiency is__________________________________________

Is verbal ability (Gc) the reason for Abby’s reading difficulties?

Abby’s Achievement Results

STANDARD SCORES            VARIATION          Significant at

VARIATIONS                           Actual  Predicted Difference         PR      SD     + or – 1.50 SD (SEE)

Intra-Achievement (Ext)

BASIC READING SKILLS          82          101            -19                     3        -1.96                  Yes

READING COMP                         107          99               8                    83      +0.96                  No
MATH CALC SKILLS                 103        100              3                    58       +0.21                  No
MATH REASONING                  107         98               9                     75      +0.68                   No
BASIC WRITING SKILLS          79       102            -23                      3        -1.85                   Yes

WRITTEN EXPRESSION         95        100             -5                      31        -0.49                 No
ORAL EXPRESSION               114            97              17                     93        +1.51                  Yes
LISTENING COMP                  105           99               6                      71       +0.55                  No
ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE  103          99               4                      68       +0.46                 No

1. Abby’s intact achievement areas:________________________________________

Any statistically significant strengths?_____________________________

2. Abby’s achievement areas of concern:

Any statistically significant weaknesses?__________________________

Any infrequent differences noted?_______________________________

3. Which cognitive abilities help explain Abby’s intact Reading Comprehension?


4. Which cognitive abilities help explain Abby’s difficulties with Basic Reading Skills?


 Other Achievement Results:


Standard Score

(+/-1 SEM)


Relative Proficiency Index (RPI)

RPI Implication(will find grade level task)


84 (80-87)



 Very Difficult

112 (106-117)




85 (81-88)



Letter-Word Identification

82 (79-85)



 Very Difficult

85 (81-89)



 Very Difficult

108 (103-113)




83 (79-87)



Reading Fluency

90 (87-94)



Writing Fluency

84 (79-89)



 Very Difficult
Math Fluency

92 (89-94)




111 (107-115)



Passage Comprehension

107 (102-112)



Writing Samples

115 (108-121)



Applied Problems

105 (101-108)






Abby’s GIA-Ext/Achievement Discrepancy

 STANDARD SCORES         DISCREPANCY       Significant at

DISCREPANCIES                    Actual  Predicted Difference         PR           SD         – 1.50 SD (SEE)

Intellectual Ability/Achievement Discrepancies*

BROAD READING                     91            100                -9                    14          -1.06                No

BASIC READING SKILLS       82           100              -18                    3             -1.86                Yes
READING COMP                       107         100                 7                   78            +0.78                No
BROAD MATH                           105          100                5                    65            +0.39               No
MATH CALC SKILLS                103        100                3                    58            +0.19                No

MATH REASONING                  107       100                7                    68           +0.48                 No
BROAD WRITTEN LANG          88      100             -12                    11              -1.23                 No
BASIC WRITING SKILLS          79       100            -21                      6              -1.57                 Yes
WRITTEN EXPRESSION          95      100              -5                    29             -0.56                 No

ORAL LANGUAGE (Ext)            112     100             12                    90            +1.29                 No
ORAL EXPRESSION                 114       100             14                     87            +1.14                 No
LISTENING COMP                    105      100               5                      71           +0.55                  No
ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE    103      100               3                     61           +0.28                 No

BRIEF READING                         92       100            -8                      19             -0.87                  No
BRIEF MATH                              107       100              7                     69              +0.49                No
BRIEF WRITING                        95       100             -5                      32              -0.48                No
*These discrepancies compare WJ III GIA (Ext) with Broad, Basic, Brief, and Applied ACH clusters



 Abby’s Summary

  • Average intelligence
  • Average to high average oral language
  • Has cognitive weaknesses in speed, phonemic awareness, rapid naming
  • No problem in mathematics
  • Problem is specific to basic reading and spelling
  • Appears to have a specific reading disability

 Recommendations for Abby

1. Provide Abby with extra time for in-class writing and reading assignments.

2. Permit use of a tape recorder during lectures.

3. Provide access to textbooks and required readings on CDs.

4. Allow extended time for exams (double time).

5. Allow use of a computer for writing assignments and exams.

6. If necessary, allow Abby to take exams in a separate room.

7. Allow access to assistive technology.

8. Work with an academic coach or LD specialist to understand her specific weaknesses and

how to take advantage of her strengths.

9. Encourage Abby to advocate for herself.

Lesson to be learned from Abby’s case:___________________________________




Miguel, Hispanic male in alternative high school, Age 15-0

Reason for Referral

  • Referred by his high school English teacher because of low basic writing and reading skills
  • She stated: “Miguel is very much a beginning reader; his reading behaviors are similar to someone who is just learning to read and amazingly low for someone of his level of intelligence.”

Background Information

  • Miguel is a 15 year-old, bilingual Hispanic male who is currently attending an alternative high school with a focus on the visual arts.
  • Placed in GATE Program Grades 1-3.
  • Mother requested reading help in first grade.

Previous Testing

  • First referred for an evaluation in eighth grade
  • Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test (UNIT), Miguel was functioning in the Average range of intellectual functioning.
  • CBM indicated that Miguel was behind in reading and written language skills. Conversely, the CBM results suggested that his math skills were similar to other children of his grade.


  • Further testing in Spanish
  • A behavioral intervention plan
  • No need for assistive technology

Tests Administered

  • WJ III ACH Standard (Tests 1-12) and Extended (Tests: Word Attack, Spelling of Words, Picture Vocabulary, and Oral Comprehension).
  • CBM for reading; (CWPM).
  • CBM for spelling; (CLS).
  • Rapid Automatized Naming and Rapid Alternating Stimulus Tests (RAN/RAS).

Miguel’s Intra-Individual Variation

Miguel’s GIA-Standard/Cognitive Discrepancy



 What are Miguel’s significant weaknesses?________________________________

What area is a strength? ____________________________________

 Miguel’s Oral Language/Achievement Discrepancy



Write a sentence to explain the discrepancy percentile rank in Basic Reading Skills.


 Miguel’s Phoneme/Grapheme Knowledge



 Curriculum Based Measurement for Reading

  • CBM for Reading was administered at the 1st grade level.  The scores were reported as correct words per minute (CWPM ).
  • Probe 1 – 25      Probe 2- 24    Probe 3- 26
  •  The median was 25 CWPM at the first-grade level.

Curriculum Based Measurement for Spelling

  • Miguel’s score was 35/68 for 12 words, the full Correct Letter Sequences (CLS); his score of 35/68 indicates Very Limited ability to spell words at the first-grade level.
  •  Examples of Miguel’s spellings were (sno for snow, yaiol for while, and awy for away.



Miguel’s Summary

  • Miguel was referred for an evaluation by his English teacher because of his severe difficulties with reading and writing.
  • Miguel demonstrated relative strengths in fluid reasoning, oral language, and visual-spatial thinking
  • Miguel demonstrated significant weaknesses in memory, speed of symbol perception, and RAN



 Academic Proficiency Based on RPIs

  • His proficiency was average in broad mathematics
  • His proficiency in written language was very limited
  • His proficiency was negligible in broad reading
  • His knowledge of phoneme-grapheme relationships was very limited




  • Evidence for phonological processing and orthographic processing deficits
  • Intervention requires explicit phonics and spelling instruction, and the use of decodable texts followed by methods for increasing fluency.



 Example Recommendations

  • Provide Miguel with an intensive phonics program (e.g., Wilson Reading, Phonic Reading Lessons) that will teach him phoneme-grapheme relationships directly.
  • Provide Miguel with taped versions of his classroom textbooks.
  • Provide assistive technology, such as use of a Kurzweil 3000.
  • Provide classroom accommodations, as needed to address his low literacy levels.

Notes: __________________________________________________________________________


Concluding Comments

  • A specific reading disability is dyslexia – deficits in basic reading skills and speed of word perception
  •  W
  • J III is a helpful tool in documenting the presence of dyslexia:
  • measures 5 domains of reading and important, relevant cognitive abilities
  • uses diagnostic intra-ability variation procedures to explore strengths and weaknesses
  • provides ability/achievement discrepancy procedures to determine if achievement is commensurate with ability



 “Diagnosis is one thing; treatment is another. No one diagnosis applies to all cases; no one treatment will eradicate all trouble”(p. 117).

Stanger, M. A., & Donohue, E. K. (1937). Prediction and prevention of reading difficulties. New York: Oxford University Press.

 “Diagnosis must take second place to instruction, and must be made a tool of instruction, not an end in itself.”

Cruickshank, W.M. (1977). Least-restrictive placement: Administrative wishful thinking. JLD, 10, 193-194.