Category: Family Cope Blog

February 29, 2024

The process of testing for Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia involve a comprehensive assessment to identify and understand the specific learning challenges experienced by the child/adolescent. The process often begins with a referral from parents, teachers, or other professionals who have observed persistent academic difficulties or atypical learning patterns. A comprehensive psychoeducational assessment is then conducted that typically includes the following components: Intellectual Assessment, Cognitive Assessment to examine processing strengths and challenges, Academic Achievement Testing, Language and Literacy Assessment, Math Assessment, Writing and Fine Motor Assessment, and Behavioral Assessment and Observation.

These components are explained below:

  • Cognitive testing evaluates intellectual functioning, processing speed, working memory, and other cognitive abilities to identify strengths and weaknesses that may contribute to learning challenges.
  • Academic testing assesses the child/adolescent’s performance in reading, writing, and math to identify specific areas of difficulty and compare performance to age or grade-level expectations.
  • Language and literacy assessment focuses on assessing reading fluency, decoding skills, reading comprehension, phonological awareness, orthographical processing, and other language-related abilities to identify characteristics of dyslexia.
  • A math assessment evaluates mathematical/quantitative reasoning, calculation skills, mathematical fluency, number sense, and problem-solving abilities to identify characteristics of dyscalculia.
  • A writing assessment evaluates graphomotor skills, writing fluency, written expression, spelling, executive working memory, expository writing, and visual motor integration to identify characteristics of dysgraphia.
  • A behavioral assessment involves observing the child/adolescent’s behavior, attention, and emotional responses during academic tasks to gain insights into their learning process and potential barriers. Behavioral rating scales are typically completed by parents, teachers, and the child/adolescent.
  • In some cases, data from your child’s school may be considered as part of the assessment process to understand the student’s response to instructional support and identify persistent learning difficulties.

Based on the assessment findings, a diagnosis of SLD (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia) is made, if the criteria are met. Recommendations are provided for educational interventions, accommodations, and support services, which are tailored to the child/adolescent’s specific learning profile.

It’s important to note that the testing process for SLD should be conducted by qualified professionals using standardized and evidence-based assessment tools to ensure accurate identification and support for individuals with specific learning difficulties. Additionally, the process should adhere to ethical guidelines and cultural considerations to provide a comprehensive understanding of the specific learning needs.

February 29, 2024

If your child loves going to school, engages successfully in an advanced curriculum, and demonstrates a strong sense of curiosity, your child may be showing signs of giftedness. Early identification of a child’s giftedness will give your child an early start with developing their unique talents in an academic environment that cultivates their potential.

The purpose of having a student evaluated for giftedness is to identify and support children who demonstrate exceptional intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership abilities that require specialized educational programming and enrichment opportunities.

A gifted intellectual evaluation focuses on cognitive abilities such as memory, visual-spatial perception, language skills, processing speed, and problem-solving skills. The school districts of Manatee County and Sarasota County both require a 130 IQ for a student to be part of a gifted program. In addition, the school will factor in the student’s grades and determine if the child is demonstrating gifted characteristics such as motivation and leadership, as well as the critical thinking skills necessary for successful placement in an advanced learning environment.

Gifted achievement testing typically focuses on the areas of reading and math. This testing is only required if you want your child to participate in a full-time magnet program within the Sarasota County School District. Please refer to the Sarasota County Exceptional Student Services website for more information (

Gifted magnet schools in Sarasota County are Fruitville, Venice, and Toledo Blade Elementary Schools; Booker, Sarasota, and Woodland Middle Schools; and Pine View School and Laurel Nokomis School. These schools require both intellectual and academic testing. They also have grade requirements and require a recommendation from your child’s school. Magnet programs typically have a separate application process and specific deadlines – be sure to contact the individual school for the most current information.

Entry into a full-time magnet program is not necessary for your child’s gifted needs to be met. Gifted needs are met in many different ways throughout Sarasota and Manatee schools. Be sure to check with your child’s school in order to understand how they will meet your child’s needs. C.O.P.E. is here to help you and your family navigate the gifted process and the educational programs offered in our area.

**It is important to note there are deadlines for gifted testing. Refer to the Sarasota County Schools and the School District of Manatee County websites for the most current information.

Gifted testing aims to:

  • Identify exceptional abilities by assessing the student’s cognitive abilities, including reasoning, problem-solving, memory, and creativity, to identify exceptional strengths and talents that may indicate giftedness.
  • Determine the need for specialized educational programming, enrichment activities, and advanced coursework that will meet the unique learning needs of gifted students and provide appropriate academic challenges.
  • Provide support, resources, and opportunities for gifted students to develop their talents, pursue advanced learning experiences, and engage in activities that align with their intellectual and creative abilities.

Inform educational planning and decision-making by identifying the specific strengths, areas of giftedness, and potential areas for academic acceleration or enrichment within the child’s educational profile.