TOD vs Traditional School Dyslexia Assessment Kits: Identifying the Right Tool

Test Of Dyslexia

Educational assessments are more than tools for measuring academic proficiency. They are vital for identifying specific learning needs, tailoring educational interventions, and tracking progress.

Educators can foster a more inclusive and effective educational environment by understanding each student’s unique learning profile.


Among the most recent innovations in this space is the Tests of Dyslexia (TOD), a comprehensive assessment tool designed specifically to identify and support students with dyslexia.


This article aims to shed light on how the TOD stacks up against traditional assessment tools used in schools, such as the Wide Range Achievement Test, Fifth Edition (WRAT-5), Pupil’s Psychological and Academic Development – Evaluation (PPAD-E), New Group Reading Test (NGRT), Cognitive Abilities Test, Fourth Edition (CAT 4), and Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT).

Understanding TOD: Its Goals and Distinct Characteristics

Dyslexia is the most widespread learning disability, affecting about 20% of the population globally, with varying degrees of severity. This means that one in every five students may experience dyslexia-related difficulties, such as reading, writing, and spelling.

With such a high incidence, the need for early identification and support cannot be overstated, and this is where the Test of Dyslexia (TOD) becomes a game-changer for school.

The Tests of Dyslexia (TOD) mark a significant advancement in educational assessments, with a specialised focus on identifying and supporting students with dyslexia.


This targeted assessment tool examines the key areas often impacted by this learning difficulty, providing a detailed evaluation of student’s phonological processing, decoding skills, and reading fluency.


By honing in on these specific competencies, TOD offers a tailored and streamlined approach to understanding the challenges faced by individuals with dyslexia and, moreover, guidance on how to support each learner in class and at home. Such a focused assessment makes it easy for teachers and provides invaluable insights that general academic evaluations might overlook, offering a more straightforward path to supporting students with dyslexia.


The primary goal of TOD is to facilitate easier access to dyslexia, eliminating the need to use multiple tests, and to facilitate a deeper understanding of dyslexia’s complex nature, enabling educators and specialists to implement more effective, personalised interventions.


Unlike broader educational assessments, TOD’s refined focus allows a nuanced exploration of the dyslexic learner’s unique profile. This specificity ensures that the interventions accurately align with the learner’s needs, potentially leading to more significant reading and related skills improvements.

  • Highly Specialised for Dyslexia: By concentrating solely on dyslexia, TOD provides insight and detail that broader assessments cannot achieve. This specialisation eliminates the need for assessors to mix and match subtests from different assessments. It is instrumental in devising targeted intervention strategies that address the root of the learning difficulty.


  • Effective Intervention Design: The precise data gathered through TOD allows educators to craft interventions that directly address the dyslexic learner's specific challenges, potentially leading to more effective outcomes.
  • Limited Scope: While TOD's specialised nature is a strength, it also serves as a limitation. The tool only focuses on dyslexia-related difficulties and does not evaluate broader academic skills or other areas of learning and development. This focus means that TOD could or should be used with other assessments to understand a student's abilities better.

In conclusion, TOD is a very valuable test for educational professionals working with dyslexic learners. It helps streamline the dyslexia assessment and makes it easier to identify and design effective and targeted interventions for the learners, offering hope for improved outcomes for individuals facing this challenge.

Comparing TOD with WRAT-5, PPAD-E, and Others



Overview and Purpose

The Wide Range Achievement Test, now in its fifth edition (WRAT-5), is a staple in assessing basic academic skills across reading, spelling and math. It helps identify potential learning disabilities and provides a solid baseline for educational intervention.

Strength and Limitations

Although WRAT-5 is known for its reliability and ease of administration, it has limitations in adapting to the digital age and broader skill assessments beyond the academic scope. It is limited in the range of subtests it provides, offering only word reading, reading comprehension and math calculation. None of the core cognitive or academic skills underlying dyslexia or literacy development are assessed, thus making it difficult to design targeted interventions.



Overview and Purpose

The Post-Primary Assessment and Diagnosis English (PPAD-E) is a standardised test of literacy in English for use in Irish Post-Primary schools as a screening and diagnostic tool for assessing literacy skills

Strength and Limitations

PPAD-E’s strength lies in its holistic view of a student’s literacy skills. Some subtests are digital and allow for fast scoring and reporting. However, others are hand-scored, which can be time-consuming. The test is only suitable for post-primary students who are 12 years and older and does not cater for younger age groups. Although the PPAD_E gives a good overview of key literacy skills, it does not examine any of the critical core cognitive components of dyslexia.



Overview and Purpose

The New Group Reading Test (NGRT) assesses reading and comprehension skills across 16 years, providing valuable insights into literacy development. The test is available in digital and paper formats. 

Strength and Limitations

Digital NGRT is known for its adaptive testing format and fast administration (30 min), which gives a good baseline of a student’s reading skills. Nonetheless, its focus is narrowly confined to two areas of reading, lacking a broader educational scope and making it more difficult to design targeted interventions.



cat 4

Overview and Purpose

The Cognitive Abilities Test, Fourth Edition (CAT 4), measures areas of intellectual or cognitive ability such as verbal or non-verbal reasoning. This area of cognitive ability is essential for learning, and insights can help tailor educational strategies to individual needs.  

Strength and Limitations

CAT 4’s comprehensive cognitive assessment is a strong point. Yet, its results require expert interpretation, and it does not assess some of the key cognitive areas that affect learning and development (e.g., working memory and processing speed). Similarly, the CAT4 does not assess academic areas such as reading, writing, and math, so it would need to be used in conjunction with other tests.



Overview and Purpose

The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Teacher Version – provides a thorough academic assessment of reading, identifying strengths and weaknesses in specific areas.

Strength and Limitations

WIAT stands out for its detailed academic focus and is particularly useful in educational planning and intervention. However, like others, it must include a broader view of student development beyond academics and does not enable assessment of phonological skills (key in dyslexia) or any of the core cognitive components of dyslexia (e.g. working memory and processing speed)


When we compare TOD to other educational assessment tools, its unique value becomes quite evident, particularly in its specialised approach to identifying and supporting dyslexia in schools.


Unlike broader assessment tools that aim to capture a wide spectrum of academic skills and developmental insights, TOD focuses on dyslexia and the academic and cognitive areas related to this, such as phonological processing, memory, decoding skills, and reading fluency.


This specialisation makes TOD easy to administer and removes the need to mix and match different to get to the root of a literacy difficulty. Moreover, it facilitates targeted intervention, which can be put in place immediately for the learner in some way. TOD is akin to a skilled consultant brought in to address a specific challenge, offering depth in areas that general assessments might skim over.


In essence, comparing TOD with broader educational assessments highlights the complementary nature of these tools rather than positioning them as direct competitors. TOD leads the way in dyslexia assessment, but it does not offer the same robustness as other assessments outside the arena (e.g., math, and other learning challenges). The key lies in leveraging both types of assessments to garner a complete picture of a student’s needs and strengths.


This approach combines expertise in addressing specific challenges like dyslexia with broader educational and developmental needs, providing a comprehensive support system for students’ diverse learning journeys.


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