Recipes Information

To Test or Not To Test - That Is the Question

Little Suzy has really been having a hard time getting some of her assignments done. When she reads in class, she struggles with many words, and her mother reported at conference time that Suzy spends hours each night on homework.

At the same time, Suzy carries on intelligent conversation, and when you ask her about what she learned from the class, she has some good feedback. She is getting excellent grades in math class and, when she does experiments in science class, she knows exactly what to do and gets great results.

You've thought about referring her for testing, wondering if a learning disability is getting in the way of her reading - a skill that underlies everything a child does in school. You know she struggles with reading, yet she does so well orally and mathematically. Should you test her?

Little Johnny can't remember his multiplication facts. Much of the time, he struggles with subtraction facts as well. His reasoning skills for determining whether he should add or subtract, multiply or divide, are faulty. And when he writes a math problem on paper, there are no columns. The numbers are all over the place. He gets very confused with the entire process as well.

But, boy, can he read. He reads books that are way above what the other students in his class read. The words in them are harder, and they are more difficult to understand.

Does he have a learning disability? Should his teacher refer him for testing?

Do either of these scenarios sound familiar? The decision regarding whether to refer a child for testing can sometimes be a difficult one to make. There are many factors to consider, not the least of which is whether the child perceives a stigma attached to the testing.

As a teacher of students with learning disabilities, teachers often consulted with me when they questioned whether or not to test. After looking at all the facts, if there was still any doubt, I would tell them that I would rather err on the side of caution. If the child is not found to have a learning disability, at least we will discover his learning styles and how best to help him with his problem. If his does have a learning disability, we can proceed to get him the special help he needs to be more successful in school. Either way, he wins.

And who can question a win-win situation?

For more plain talk about learning disabilities, please visit us at

About the Author
Sandy Gauvin is a retired educator who has seen learning disabilities from many perspectives - as the parent of a daughter with learning disabilities, as the teacher of children with learning disabilities, and as an advocate for others who have diagnosed and unrecognized learning disabilities. Sandy shares her wisdom and her resources at


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