A report from the National Reading Panel states: “ Reading difficulty is one of the most significant problems facing students today. Reading underlies the ability to perform in most other academic domains and school adjustment.”

Many students entering high school, even those who are not Special Education students, have limited vocabulary and lack the proficiency to read and understand not only subject specific content, but also complex language of everyday life. Young adults who struggle with reading, feel a deep shame and embarrassment about their reading difficulties.

As students become older, the ability to perform well across subjects becomes increasingly dependent upon their ability to read and understand text, putting students with longstanding reading difficulties at a unique disadvantage. (Donaldson 2013).

If struggling readers have not received consistent and effective reading intervention in elementary school, from grade 6 on, a sense of hopelessness begins to set in and they may disengage,  stop going to school regularly, develop behavioural strategies to conceal their  reading difficulties, or”duck and weave” when it comes to completing academic assignments. Attention then becomes focused on their attendance, attitude and behaviour, instead of on their inability to read. This can have serious implications, not only for school success but life in general.

Image result for teenage student struggling with reading

In order for teachers to identify and support students with reading challenges, it is important to administer appropriate diagnostic assessments early in the school year, provide support when it is needed and track improvements over time.

“…. A majority of struggling readers do not believe their reading is improving. Using multiple means of assessment and including formative assessment at predetermined intervals will allow students to see improvements in their own reading abilities as the school year progresses. Students can also be taught to assess their improvements in comparison with themselves rather than their peers. Success in reading tasks provides the experiential-based evidence students need to build higher levels of self-efficacy. It also gives teachers an excellent opportunity to celebrate students’ successes as they see students grow toward becoming more independent, proficient readers.”(Donaldson 2013)

Image result for teenage student struggling with reading


  •  Weschler Fundamentals Academic Skills (WFAS)
  •  Flynt Cooter Comprehensive Reading Inventory
  •  The TDSB Literacy Success Diagnostic Kit (LSDK )

Weschler Fundamentals Academic Skills (WFAS) and the Flynt-Cooter can both be used strategically to identify decoding and fluency challenges in order to inform instruction.  The Literacy Success Diagnostic Kit ‘s primary purpose is to assess students’reading comprehension of informational text, and their skill in using the paragraph form to write persuasively. It can also help teachers adapt and plan for literacy instruction that is tailored to meet students’ needs.


WFAS The  only purpose of WFAS is as a quick snapshot or pre-diagnostic to determine if there is a need  for additional strategic diagnostic assessment in reading and math. It is not useful as a holistic assessment. “WFAS is a quick, empirically based achievement test that measures broad skills in the areas of reading, spelling, and math computation,” Pearson Psychorp. When the WFAS has been administered and scores reveal that a student is reading significantly below grade level, further assessment is essential. This will inform planning for instruction and determine what reading intervention strategies and academic support are needed to ensure that the student can be  successful.


The Flynt-Cooter  Diagnostic Reading Assessment is a reading assessment  that identifies students’ strengths and challenges in the following areas: decoding, reading fluency and comprehension. It is a strategic next step assessment tool for students with reading challenges and for monitoring a student’s progress over time.


The  Literacy Success Diagnostic Kit LSDK is a comprehensive assessment intended to be administered early in the school year, so that teachers:
•  determine students’ starting points in their reading and writing skills
• gain precise knowledge of students’ literacy strengths and challenges
•  explicitly teach literacy skills along with the course content
• support students as they acquire and practise the literacy skills they need to be successful in their school subjects and on the OSSLT in Grade 10.

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Complete_TDSB_LSDK_PDF_May6 (1)


Teachers need to be extremely sensitive and strategic when it comes to providing reading intervention for young adults who are reading significantly below grade level. There is no “once size fits all” reading intervention plan.  Support needs to be personalized to meet the needs of the individual students.

Donalson, K., Reading Improvement; Winter 2013, Vol. 50 Issue 4, p.189-198.

If you have students with reading challenges and would like more information about the these assessments, please contact:



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