Evaluation of Learning (Educ 3504)
Emily Donnelly, Jessica Koopmans, Ashlee Kress & Whitney MacGeary

What is a Learning Disability?

  • Learning disability (also known as LD) refers to a number of disorders that can impact the "acquisition, organization, retention, understanding, or use of verbal and/or non-verbal information".
  • Learning disabilities are a result of a difference in the way people's brains are "wired". They are "due to genetic and/or neurological factors or injury that alters brain functioning in a manner which affects one or more processes related to learning.
  • Learning disabilities cannot be cured, but can be accommodated for and the child can learn to overcome it.

What is Dyslexia?

  • Dyslexia is a learning disability that is "characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities".
    • These difficulties are usually the result of a "deficit in the phonological component of language".
  • Other consequences of dyslexia "may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge".
  • "Other problems experienced by dyslexics include the following: 1329477370389.jpg
    • Learning to speak
    • Learning letters and their sounds
    • Organizing written and spoken language
    • Memorizing number facts
    • Reading quickly enough to comprehend
    • Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments
    • Spelling
    • Learning a foreign language
    • Correctly doing math operations".
  • If a student has problems with the above, it is not necessarily true that they are dyslexic. Formal testing is the only way to be sure.

What is it like to have Dyslexia?

This is what written text might look like to someone with dyslexia:
Thew ord sare n otsp aced cor rect ly
We spell wrds xatle az tha snd to us
  • Words may appear to blend together and spaces are lost. Children with dyslexia, therefore, often have trouble reading and writing and struggle in school.
  • They may read slowly and get letters mixed up when they are reading and writing.
    • For example the word “now” may look more like “won” to someone with dyslexia.
  • Students with dyslexia may also have difficulty with reading comprehension and remembering what they read.

What is Dysgraphia?

  • Dysgraphia is a "condition of impaired letter writing by hand, that is, disabled handwriting." Impaired handwriting can interfere with learning to spell words in writing and speed of writing text.
  • "Research to date has shown orthographic coding in working memory is related to handwriting and is often impaired in dysgraphia. Orthographic coding refers to the ability to store written words in working memory while the letters in the word are analyzed or the ability to create permanent memory of written words linked to their pronunciation and meaning."
  • "Dysgraphia may occur alone or with dyslexia", though they commonly occur together.

What is it like to have Dysgraphia?

People with dysgraphia find it hard to communicate in writing and my also have difficulty spelling.
When writing, people with dysgraphia may:
  • Write a mixture of small letters and capitals in improper places
  • Write letters of different shapes and sizes
  • Leave some letters in words unfinished
  • Hold their pen or pencil in an unusual way
  • Have messy handwriting

dysgraphia student.jpg

2nd grade student.jpg

Try the experiment below and see how it feels to have dysgraphia.

Some famous people with dyslexia and dysgraphia are:
  • Whoppi Golberg
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Albert Einstein
  • Pablo Picasso

Richard Lavoie

Richard Lavoie is an educator, motivational speaker, author and advocate for children with learning disabilities. Much of his work is directed towards informing parents, teachers, and the public about what it is like to be a child living with a learning disability. A video of one of his lectures is posted below.

Many children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia have trouble reading, writing, and decoding. The link below holds another informative video by Richard Lavoie. In this video he shows parents what it is like to read as someone with dyslexia. He explains that people with dyslexia have particular trouble with the letters p d b and q because all these letters basically look the same but are oriented differently on the page. People with Dyslexia often get these letters mixed up when they are reading and writing.


  • “About 13-14% of the school population nationwide has a handicapping condition that qualifies them for special education.”
  • “One-half of all the students who qualify for special education are classified as having a learning disability (LD) (6-7%). “
  • “About 85% of those LD students have a primary learning disability in reading and language processing.”
  • “Currently 2.4 million students are diagnosed with LD and receive special education services in our schools, representing 41% of all students receiving special education.””
  • “1 in 10 Canadians has a learning disability.”

What Is Assessment?

Ann Davies defines assessment as "gathering information about student learning that informs our teaching and helps students learn more."
There are two different types of assessment for the classroom:
  • summative assessment or ‘assessment of learning’, and
  • formative assessment or ‘assessment for learning’.

Summative assessment is defined as ”assessment information used to provide evidence of student achievement for the purpose of making a judgment about student competence or program effectiveness.” Formative assessment is defined as “formal and informal processes teachers and students use to gather evidence for the purpose of improving learning.”

Formative Assessment

Assessing children with dysgraphia and dyslexia can be difficult but with a little bit of ingenuity, teachers can find ways to find out if their students are learning what they need to know.

Formative assessment of children with dysgraphia and dyslexia can be aided through:
  • providing them with a word processor. In this way the teacher can assess if the child is learning what he needs to know by having him type it out, lessening the stress of having to form letters and numbers with a pencil.
    • Although this makes assessment easier for the teacher and work easier for the student, handwriting should not be totally eliminated as it is still essential in society.
  • Letting the child speak assignments or ideas into a recorder for note taking or drawing pictures to represent what he would otherwise have to do in writing.
    • This also eliminates the problem of forming letters and numbers.
  • Asking the child to answer questions orally rather than writing them down.
  • Using ‘clickers’ can aid children with dysgraphia.
    • Students answer multiple choice questions, quizzes and opinion polls etc to answer questions on material being learned. It then pops up on the smart board in the form of graphs and other methods.

Education video games can also be used to assess learning. By using video games, children do not need to write or read as much, and what writing and reading is required is in a form that children find entertaining rather than seeing it as work.


Summative Assessment

Unfortunately summative assessment, although widely used is not always effective in fairly assessing students with learning disabilities.

It is recommended that teachers and schools
  • utilize a range of assessment methods across all subject areas
  • ensure that exams are in accessible formats
  • make room for reasonable adjustments or alternative assessments

Traditional examinations do not always offer a level playing field for students with learning disabilities. It is important to strike a balance between coursework, presentations, and examinations. When organizing assignments make sure to give students time to plan their work and allow for editing.

If written examinations are necessary there are some adjustments teachers can make to make test taking more accessible for students with dyslexia/ dysgraphia:
  • Clear and simple layout
  • Use clear font (Arial or Helvetica)
  • Avoid dense blocks of text
  • Avoid using underlines or italics
  • Utilize diagrams and charts
  • Allow students to use computers to write exams where possible
  • Allow spellcheck

Other assessment methods may also be used for students with dyslexia, dysgraphia such as;:
  • Computer based assessments
  • Oral Examinations
  • Peer and self- evaluations
  • Presentations
  • Portfolios
  • Sketchbooks
  • open book exams

Teachers may also provide students with access to aids, tools, proofreaders, scribes, and laptops.

Setting & Achieving Personalized Learning Outcomes

Adapting teaching styles and use of strategies versus different learning objectives. If this is not successful, different learning outcomes will be needed. This could be best accomplished by
  1. Assessing what the student can and cannot do related to achieving the learning outcome(s). This is refereed to as “finding a baseline for the pupil’s learning.”
  2. Determine which accommodations would be best and evaluate their effectiveness
  3. If ongoing monitoring of accommodations demonstrates growth within students learning, selecting future learning outcomes will become easier. The teacher will be better able to help this student learn.

  • Note: If the student still does not make progress despite personalizing learning objectives, the teacher needs to go back and re-asses where the students baseline is.


Accomodation Concept Map  2-1_1.jpeg

Teacher Resources

  1. This is a short video titled "Dyslexia: A Hidden Disability". Some people who have dyslexia are interviewed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m1fCz3ohMw&feature=related
  2. This is a link to some FAQ about dyslexia. http://www.readingrockets.org/helping/questions/dyslexia/
  3. Here are some more famous and successful people with dyslexia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCYnvqXB5aw&feature=related
  4. Accommodations and Modifications for Students with Handwriting Problems and/or Dysgraphia


  1. Crouch, A., Jakubecy, J. (2007). Dysgraphia: How It Affects a Student's Performance and What Can Be Done about It. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus. Vol. 3 (Issue 3).
  2. Davies, A. (2011). Making Classroom Assessment Work (3rd ed.). Courtenay, BC: Connections Publishing.
  3. http://education.exeter.ac.uk/projects.php?id=167
  4. http://kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/school/dyslexia.html
  5. http://www.brainhe.com/students/types/dysgraphiaforstudents.html
  6. http://www.ldac-acta.ca/
  7. http://www.ldac-acta.ca/en/learn-more/ld-defined/official-definition-of-learning-disabilities.html
  8. http://www.ldonline.org/index.php
  9. http://www.ncld.org/
  10. http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dysgraphia/what-is-dysgraphia
  11. http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/what-is-dyslexia
  12. http://www.tlsu.dept.shef.ac.uk/handbook/accessible_assessment_guidelines.pdf
  13. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m1fCz3ohMw&feature=related
  14. http://specialedpost.com/2012/06/28/school-choice-expands-with-dyslexia-school/
  15. www.readingrockets.org