Screening & 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. If students are performing below benchmark during screening, schools should then use diagnostic measures to identify underlying causes and provide students immediate support. Screening is not a diagnosis, but an important process to get students the appropriate help they need to become fluent readers. 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 .

Addressing dyslexia begins with core instruction. Dyslexia falls on a spectrum from mild to severe. To address the needs of all students, Tier 1 Instruction should use a Structured Literacy Approach to teach children the alphabetic code as a preventative approach for reading disabilities (dyslexia never goes away, but the symptoms can be reduced with appropriate instruction and intervention). Students on the dyslexia spectrum will often need more intensity and repetition to help map words to their long-term memory for instant word recognition. Schools will need to value a preventative model that includes appropriate screeners, evidence-based core instruction, and a schedule that builds in the opportunity to support students who need extra structured literacy support to succeed.

Dyslexia Screening and the Use of Acadience Reading K-6

Fine Tuning Elementary Data Teaming to Improve Student Outcomes

Selecting and Evaluating Literacy Programs and Interventions

Addressing Dyslexia starts with core instruction!

Early Literacy Screeners

Comprehensive list of early literacy screeners compiled by Dr. Nadine Gaab. Excellent resource for schools.

Evaluating Early Literacy Screeners

Academic Screening Tools Chart

Understanding Reading Challenges with the Simple View of Reading

Types of Reading Difficulties


        • 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 poor RAN should be considered a warning. "On the Reality of Dyslexia"

        • Structured Literacy interventions should be diagnostic, explicit, and systematic. Guided reading and Three-Cueing do not address the core deficits for a dyslexic student (ex. LLI, Reading Recovery, Guided Reading).


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

Comprehensive Guide from

Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia


We recommend parents use these templates when discussing concerns or developing an IEP. We also recommend schools use these templates to guide MTSS discussions or IEP progress monitoring.

Diagnostic Testing and School Evaluation

  • The article, "Testing and Evaluation" from the International Dyslexia Association website is a comprehensive 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.

  • Schools CAN identify characteristics of dyslexia as part of the IEP Process (Specific Learning Disability Basic Reading and/or Fluency).

"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."

Important Considerations

  • 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.

  • Teacher training, continuous professional development, and coaching will lead to sustainable implementation.

  • 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 the 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

Intervention Resources

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.

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).

Writing IEP Goals