Children are usually tested because they are having problems in school. Testing can pinpoint the areas of difficulty children are having. Students are very different from each other in how they process information. When a “processing deficit” or weakness collides with the skills necessary for good classroom success, a child will have difficulty learning feel very frustrated and confused about why they are having trouble.
A psycho-educational evaluation is conducted in order to isolate the particular deficit (or deficits) that are interfering with learning. A prime example of a learning disorder this is found in “dyslexics”, who often have trouble learning to “sound out” or “decode” the letters and groups of letters they see on a page they are reading. This deficit wasn’t always a problem: around the time of the Civil War in America, every town had a teacher who would write letters to mail, and read incoming mail. Most people could not read or write well. In comparison, reading is a primary skill for learning in the modern era. Beyond that, students are expected to be strong readers, as well as to be strong in the (complimentary) skill of written expression.
Often, children can read, but not as strongly as they perform in other subject areas. Every child with a learning disorder will “compensate” for their weakness. Often, dyslexic children will sight-read in the early grades, and work around their learning disorder for a while. By middle school, the difficulty of reading material increases, and sight-reading fails as a strategy.
A child may read with poor accuracy, but good comprehension. They may have to read slowly, perhaps to re-read passages more than the child at the next desk. These are common problems diagnosed through testing, and may require ‘extended-time” accommodations and other strategies to enhance learning and performance.