Assessing and Monitoring

Assessing, Supporting and Identifying Dyslexia


Assessing dyslexia and providing appropriate support are symbiotic processes. Assessment and support are linked and planning should reflect this.

The assessment of dyslexia for learners in Scottish schools:

  • Is a dynamic 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.
  • Should include consultation and actively involve teachers/school staff, management, parents, pupils and other agencies when there are concerns about pupil progress.
  • Should include the gathering of information from varied sources in order to identify the needs of a learner and to suggest appropriate interventions, support and planning.
  • Should support learners to become successful learners and confident individuals

This approach reflects Scottish legislation and policy and is core to the  Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit’s Dyslexia Identification Pathway.  The pathway 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.

Select here to download the Dyslexia Identification Pathway. 

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 learner centred holistic assessment which involves school staff, partners, the family and importantly the learner themselves.  Assessment acknowledges that children and young people develop as a result of an interaction between themselves and their environment.

Click here for some useful forms and templates which can support the process. 

Information in the Supporting learners and Families section on Initial steps and  Starting the process will also help the identification of dyslexia. 

The short animation below provides an overview of the pathway which may be helpful to share with the learner and familes.

Who is responsible for identifying dyslexia? 

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. Further information on professional role is available here within the Toolkit. 

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. 

Schools are well placed to provide a range of assessment information  which when combined together can provide a full picture of the learners’ strengths and areas of difficulties which has been gathered through a range of situations and experiences. The collation of evidence and information for a dyslexia identification  

An identification of dyslexia does not necessarily mean that a learner’s needs have been identified and addressed. Ensuring appropriate participation, planning and assessment across Curriculum for Excellence is in place will support educators, learners and parents to understand a learner’s strengths and areas of need.

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 Pathway – Overview 

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 known as Stage 1 level of intervention. 

Step 1 – What all teachers can do through applying the principles of teaching and learning for those with dyslexia.

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.Step 2 – What is likely to be done by support for learning teachers/staff working in collaboration with class teachers.

Step 2 – What is likely to be done by support for learning teachers/staff working in collaboration with class teachers.

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. 

Step 3 – What is likely to be done when the gathering of information from the collaborative identification process is completed.

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.

Disabled Student Allowance – Higher Education

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a fund to support disabled students and those with additional learning needs who are studying higher education and may have extra costs because of their disability. Support is available for a range of disabilities or learning difficulties including dyslexia and dyscalculia.

Further details are available at the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) website:


In the first year students apply for DSA, they will be asked to provide supporting evidence to confirm their disability or learning difficulty. For Dyslexia or Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), they require a diagnostic assessment report or written statement from one of the following:

  • Psychologists who are registered with Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC)
  • An appropriately qualified professional – this includes those who:
  • Hold an SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate (APC); or
  • Hold a suitable Postgraduate qualification of a level which would be acceptable for Associate Membership of the British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA), Level 7; or:
  • are a General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) registered teacher working in or supporting the school in Scotland which the student attended and who has completed the Dyslexia Scotland and Open University ‘Dyslexia: Identification and Support’ (Module 3).

The student’s assessment must have taken place while they were at school within the context of the local authority’s Collaborative Assessment Pathway for Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties – available on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit.

Statements or reports provided by a psychologist or appropriately qualified individual (as described above) must contain a clear conclusion or summary which confirms formal identification of dyslexia or SpLD.

If the student is unable to provide the evidence described above, they can accept a written statement from a previous educational establishment. The statement must confirm formal identification of dyslexia or a SpLD and that identification was carried out by a psychologist or appropriately qualified professional (as described above).

Further Professional Development

Select here to access the Professional Reflection and Planning Tool on this section – ‘Assessing and Monitoring. Professional Reflection and Planning Tool’

Select here to access the free online module ‘Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice’.

Select here to view a filmed workshop on SQA Assessment Arrangements. Dawn Roberts, PTC Support for learning in Fife Council, trains pupils and encourages ICT use and adaptations to the curriculum throughout her secondary school from S1, to allow the pupils in the senior phase to make full use of their SQA  Assessment Arrangements. Innes Roberts, Dyslexia Scotland’s Young Ambassador, shares his experiences in the same workshop.