This chapter discusses research-generated inclusionary criteria for defining dyslexia in children and adults. Writing disabilities, in particular, are under-diagnosed and under-treated and may be an unrecognized contributor to academic failure and school drop-out rates. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) defines dyslexia as a specific learning disability characterized by unexpected difficulty in accuracy and rate of decoding, word reading and text reading, and spelling. Exclusionary criteria prevent confusion of dyslexia with reading problems having other biological causes. The University of Washington (UW) research team conducted confirmatory factor analyses to evaluate the measurement model based on latent traits underlying multiple indicators or measures of the same process. Current school assessment practices focus on making educational decisions about whether children qualify for special education services rather than on making differential diagnoses. Insufficient attention is given to etiology of reading problems, linking assessment to research-supported effective instruction, and prognosis for long-range outcomes.
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