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Dyscalculia Testing

By Anna Witkin, Medical Consultant |
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One of the most important features of an accurate diagnosis of dyscalculia is synthesis of the individual’s overall academic capabilities across different domains and throughout time. Because there is so much potential for confounding factors influencing an individual’s academic performance in math, as much data should be obtained from as many different sources as possible. These sources should likely include the student themselves, parents, teachers, and neuropsychological testing. Another important factor to consider is the presence or absence of a marked discrepancy between performance in other subjects and in math. Strong students performing well below their baseline in one subject may be especially likely to benefit from targeted interventions.

It should be noted that given the lack of understanding of the underlying neurologic processes and the many combinations of factors that produce the same result (a poor academic performance in math), it is difficult to ensure an accurate diagnosis of dyscalculia.

Learning math is much more dependent on teaching quality than learning reading, making the diagnosis of dyscalculia more difficult than that of dyslexia. Furthermore, because math concepts build upon each other, inadequate instruction in early math classes can result in ongoing struggles. A student with a good math teacher in 4th grade could struggle if they had a bad teacher in 1st and 2nd grade as they may never have mastered the basics. It can thus be especially difficult to untangle what is attributable to the student and what to the teacher in the case of poor math performance.

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Anna Witkin, Medical Consultant

Anna Witkin is a contributing writer for Polygon. Anna holds a BA from UC Berkeley, a Masters in Biomedical Science from Tufts, and researched ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning differences during her time at Dartmouth School of Medicine studying for her MD.

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