A toolkit for the identification and support
of learners exhibiting literacy difficulties

Assessing and Monitoring

Assessing and Supporting those with Dyslexia


Assessing dyslexia and providing appropriate support are symbiotic processes. Assessment and support are linked and planning should reflect this.See also information in the Supporting learners and Families section on Initial steps and  Starting the process.

The assessment of dyslexia in children and young people in schools in Scotland: 

  • Is a process rather than an end-product. The information provided in the assessment should support the learner’s next steps for learning.
  • Should be a holistic and collaborative process which takes place over a period of time, drawing on a range of observational and assessment methods. This approach reflects the development of the pathway within the Toolkit.

A single standardised assessment or a screener on its own is not considered to be an appropriate process to identify dyslexia. While the information can be helpful it must be recognised that it reflects a snapshot in time and that it cannot provide the in-depth analysis and quality of a holistic assessment which involves school staff, partners, the family and the learner.  

Download the Dyslexia Identification Pathway

Click here for some useful forms and templates. 

Identification of dyslexia: the role of class teachers

Everyone has the skills and abilities to recognise early signs of dyslexia in children at all stages, and take appropriate action in response.  Pupil support begins with the class teacher, but this does not mean that class teachers are responsible for the formal identification of dyslexia. It means that they play an important role in the initial stages and the continuing monitoring and assessment of learning – as they do for all their pupils.

It is the responsibility of all who work with children to respond appropriately to their needs. Recognising early signs of difficulties and adapting learning and teaching approaches are a regular part of the daily routine for teachers supporting all children in an education environment. For those learners who may have additional learning needs such as those arising from dyslexia, it is important that these needs are met in the best possible way by accurate and timely identification – please refer to the information in the Supporting Learners section. 

An identification of dyslexia does not necessarily mean that a learner’s needs have been identified and addressed. Using the principles of Assessment is for Learning information (AifL), appropriate assessment:

“ensures pupils, parents, teachers and other professionals have the feedback they need about pupils’ learning and development needs” (AifL - Assessment is for Learning information sheet)

The following pathway for the identification of literacy difficulties and dyslexia has been developed to provide guidance to schools and local authorities with a view to:

  • establishing a common pathway for children and young people
  • achieving consistency of approach across Scotland.

Independent or private assessments

From time to time, however, parents may have their child assessed by an independent psychologist. This assessment will take account of the child’s history and the ‘one-off test’ described above is only one part of that assessment.

The Additional Support for Learning Act - Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 as amended - is very clear that education authorities must take account of independent assessments unless they have a good reason for not doing so. The Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice states the following:

“The education authority must also take account of any relevant advice and information provided to them by parents on behalf of their child, or the young person. For example, if the parents have privately commissioned an assessment or report on the child or young person, or the young person has commissioned the report, then the authority must take that report or advice into consideration if asked to do so. Also, the authority must seek and take account of the views of parents and, where appropriate, of children and young people themselves. Further information is provided in chapter 7 which considers working with children and families.”

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions by teachers and parents about assessment.

Identification and Assessment Summary Overview of Steps

Though the Toolkit refers to 'Steps', no attempt has been made to match these to the stages of the Getting it right for every child approach and the staged levels of intervention which are set out elsewhere on this website. Most children with dyslexia will continue to be accommodated through Universal Support which in many local authorities may be called to as Stage 1 level of intervention. 

Teacher accesses the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit for advice and support strategies for the appropriate level/stage. At this early stage it is unlikely that formal standardised tests will be required over and above what is already in place. Methodical observation and recording of progress by the class teacher should be sufficient.  Staged Intervention Process paperwork should be completed, with clear notes on the teaching approaches and strategies put in place.

If no progress or poor progress is recorded despite the support provided in Step 1, more detailed assessment of specific skills will be required and usually undertaken by a support for learning teacher.

Staged Intervention Process paperwork should be completed with clear notes on the teaching approaches and strategies put in place and holistic collaborative assessment details there should be a detailed sharing of insights.

If a difficulty has been identified on the dyslexia continuum, teachers will require to plan, implement and monitor learning and teaching arrangements that address and make accommodations for the student’s difficulties, including appropriate assessment arrangements. This could include extra time or access to IT.  

A formal and comprehensive full assessment and report which collates and interprets all the available data and insights into an analysis/summary/report should be helpful and informative to all those involved in helping the pupil to cope with school and post-school if applicable.  More specialist individualised approaches will be likely to be applied when dyslexia is more severe.

Use of appropriate strategies/approaches and monitoring of teaching and learning will be continued and can be revisited if required at a later date. Assessment information will support class teachers with future planning for the child/young person’s learning.