Assessing & Addressing Dyslexia
Importance of Early Screening
Ending the Dyslexia Paradox
Early screening identifies at risk students starting in Kindergarten. Screening is important because it can help to identify the weaknesses in the sub-skills of reading that impact decoding and oral language skills. Screening is not a diagnosis.
Early Screening should include: Phonemic Awareness, Phonological Awareness, and Rapid Auto Naming Skills (objects).
Students with dyslexia may also have Developmental Language Disorder. It is important to screen for both. Screening for DLD .
Tier 1 Instruction should use a Structured Literacy Approach to teach all children the alphabetic code as a preventative approach to dyslexia (dyslexia never goes away, but the symptoms can be reduced with appropriate instruction and intervention).
Understanding Reading Challenges with the Simple View of Reading
Types of Reading Difficulties
Learn More: David A. Kilpatrick, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties (Essentials of Psychological Assessment)
Students with unexpected word-level reading skills, but have adequate language comprehension skills.
Students have difficulty sounding out words and mapping words to their orthographic lexicon (long-term memory for stored words) for instant word recognition as a result of poor phonological awareness. Students also struggle with reading fluency and spelling.
These students often have poor phonemic awareness.
Compensator- student displays a mild form of the dyslexic pattern but compensates to some degree with strong language skills, making this problem more difficult to recognize.
Dyslexia is part of a literacy continuum. Cut off percentages for diagnosis are arbitrary and vary from state to state. A child just above the cut-off will still struggle to read. Therefore, early screening and scientifically based reading instruction are very important to students who struggle with word-level reading. Poor phonemic awareness, a struggle to read non-words, and slow RAN should be considered a warning. "On the Reality of Dyslexia"
Interventions should include a multimodal, explicit, systematic phonics and should included phonemic awareness practice until students gain advanced phonemic proficiency. Guided reading and Three-Cueing do not address the core deficits for a dyslexic student.
Typically have language-related deficits that keep students from comprehending what they read. These readers can decode words, but struggle with understanding meaning. This may be a sign of Developmental Language Disorder. Learn more:
Assessments and Decision Making
Use this tool from AIM Institute for a quick guide to assessments and a decision-making flowchart that will assist in using assessment data to accelerate learning and inform instruction.
Watch this recording of RIDE's Webinar explaining the above tool and featuring AIM Institute for Learning and Research. The webinar also helps participants take a systematic look at interpreting both formal and informal assessment data to improve students' reading outcomes by understanding common reading profiles, grouping students based on areas of instructional need, and differentiating instructional practices to ensure that students continuously improve their reading skills.
Checklist: Use this checklist to track student mastery of Foundational Literacy Skills.
Source: RIDE Structured Literacy
Dyslexia and the RTI/MTSS Process
Diagnostic Testing and Evaluation
The article, "Testing and Evaluation" from the International Dyslexia Association website is a holistic and powerful guide on testing and evaluations to help identify dyslexic students. (Click on title to redirect to article).
SLD/Dyslexia Assessment Resource Guide from the CT Department of Education. Describes testing and evaluations to help identify dyslexic students. These tests help identify core deficits, so appropriate evidence-based interventions can be used for students with dyslexia.
"There is general agreement that specific learning disabilities (SLDs), such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, are heterogeneous disorders that impact skill acquisition and performance in reading, writing, and mathematics. SLDs may coexist with other conditions, including but not limited to communication disorders, disorders of attention, or giftedness."
Things to Consider
Addressing reading difficulties begins with Tier 1 instruction. Early literacy should include structured literacy as defined by the IDA. Learn more about structured literacy programs.
Early screening is the best predictor of students who will go on to have reading disabilities.
Highly trained teachers using evidence-based interventions with fidelity will lead to literacy for all.
Address school-based biases associated with assessments and interventions for black, brown, and multi-lingual students. If a child has the makers of dyslexia do not make assumptions, these students deserve to be evaluated.
Consider family history of struggling students. Dyslexia runs in families.
Use the recommended diagnostic tests to identify characteristics of dyslexia (Note: there is no single dyslexic test! Evaluations should include testing, classroom observations, and curriculum-based classwork. They all play an important part in identifying a dyslexic student).
Evaluations for Dyslexia should include-oral language skills, word identification, decoding, spelling/encoding, phonological processing, automaticity/fluency skills, reading comprehension, vocabulary (reading and listening task). (Source: IDA),
Teachers can work with literacy interventionists, speech-language pathologists and instructional coaches to meet the needs of their dyslexic students in the general education setting.
Writing and Encoding Struggles
The greatest tool a struggling student can have is a highly qualified and trained teacher in structured literacy. "A box" is not an appropriate plan without training and coaching support.
LLI as a Reading Intervention-"no discernible effects on alphabetics for beginning readers."
(Note: We do not officially endorse programs. We endorse evidence-based practices).
The IDA Handbook on Dyslexia
This handbook created by the International Dyslexia Association is a great tool to empower teachers and staff about dyslexia. Please share with your child's school. (Click the title to be redirected to PDF).