What is a language processing evaluation? How is it different from other evaluations?


The purpose of a Lexercise language processing evaluation is to determine: 1) if there is a significant reading and/or writing disability and, if so, 2) what research-backed treatment(s) is/are indicated.

The evaluation protocol we use was developed from research funded largely by the United States National Institutes of Health, and it focuses on the neuro-linguistic skills that are known to underpin skilled reading and writing. Our evaluation protocol allows us to make a differential diagnosis that pinpoints the cause of the difficulty, using a model of reading acquisition that is now accepted by nearly all reading scientists (Seidenberg, 2017). We use the Word Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) diagnostic coding.

In contrast, the purpose of a psycho-educational evaluation, typically done through public schools in the United States, is to qualify children for tax-supported, special education services (e.g., an IEP).  The typical psycho-educational evaluation includes a complete IQ test and a series of achievement tests in school subjects like reading and math.  A "discrepancy" (significant difference) between the child's IQ and achievement tests is one of the ways a child is "qualified" for tax-supported public school services. (The other is Response-to-Intervention or R-t-I.)  The use of an IQ-achievement discrepancy for diagnosing reading disorders like dyslexia is not supported by research and is not recommended the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  (See: NIH-funded study finds dyslexia not tied to IQ)  Psycho-educational evaluations are not designed to pin-point the cause of the difficulty.  A differential diagnosis is not the purpose of a psycho-educational evaluation because most reading interventions done through public schools are group-based, a one-size-fits-all approaches and are not differentiated based on diagnosis.  Based on the Department of Education's own research, public school intervention for struggling readers is not effective and may even have negative effects (Balu, et al., 2015).



Lexercise's language processing evaluations are carried out online, in our secure web-based office by one of our Clinical Educators. The testing protocol is based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health and includes a series of short tests that are relatively quick to administer, have good statistical reliability and can be used or adapted for clients ages 6 and up. 

The language processing evaluation allows the Clinical Educator know exactly at what level to begin therapy, as well as what customizations, assistive technologies and/or accommodations are likely to be necessary to help the child progress academically.

Guided by the Simple View of Reading, a language processing evaluation is designed to determine if there are listening comprehension issues (e.g. vocabulary and sentence and/or discourse processing deficits) and/or if there are decoding and/or spelling issues (e.g., phonological awareness, phonological memory, lexical access, rapid naming deficits and/or letter-sound association deficits)  The skills include:

1) awareness & memory for speech sounds (i.e., phonological awareness and memory)

2) awareness & memory for the association of speech sounds with letter symbols

3) naming fluency for well-known objects or symbols (e.g., rapid naming of pictures and/or alpha-numeric symbols)

4) awareness & memory for letter symbols in syllable contexts  

5) listening comprehension

6) vocabulary 

7) writing sample analysis (including a spelling analysis, the accuracy, ease and fluency of handwriting, and the quality of content)

The Lexercise evaluation protocol is consistent with the Joint Technical Report of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Ophthalmology and Council on Children with Disabilities, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, and American Association of Certified Orthoptists summarized here:  “Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision".



  1. Balu, R., et al. (2015) Evaluation of Response to Intervention Practices for Elementary School Reading, United States Institute for Education Sciences
  2. Berninger, V., Rury Smith, D. and  O'Donnell, L. (2008). Research-Supported Assessment-Intervention Links for Reading and Writing. National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and Reading Rockets Partnership.
  3. Gilman, B. J., Lovecky, D. V., Kearney, K., Peters, D. B., Wasserman, J. D., Silverman, L. K., ...Rimm, S. B. (2013). Critical issues in the identification of gifted students with co-existing disabilities: The twice-exceptional. SAGE Open 3: doi: 10.1177/2158244013505855
  4. Handler, S.M. et al. (2011). Joint Technical Report: Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision. Pediatrics Vol. 127 No. 3, pp. e818 -e856.  
  5. NIH-funded study finds dyslexia not tied to IQ. NIH News and Events (2011)
  6. Seidenberg, M. (2017). Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can't and What Can Be Done About It.  New York: Basic Books.

For more information see Lexercise-Online Testing & Treatment. 
* While the term "child" is used in this article a language processing evaluation can be done for a person of any age, including adults.


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