What is Dyslexia?
“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. Many state education codes, including New Jersey, Ohio and Utah, have adopted this definition. Learn more about how consensus was reached on this definition: Definition Consensus Project.
Washington State Dyslexia Law
Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, and as provided in this section, each school district must use multitiered systems of support to provide interventions to students in kindergarten through second grade who display indications of, or areas of weakness associated with, dyslexia. In order to provide school districts with the opportunity to intervene before a student's performance falls significantly below grade level, school districts must screen students in kindergarten through second grade for indications of, or areas associated with, dyslexia as provided in this section. (3)(a) If a student shows indications of below grade level literacy development or indications of, or areas of weakness associated with, dyslexia, the school district must provide interventions using evidence-based multitiered systems of support, consistent with the recommendations of the dyslexia advisory council under RCW 28A.300.710 and as required under this subsection (3).
More information on RCW28A.320.260 Dyslexia interventions is available on OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) website.
The Dyslexia Fact Sheet provides high-level information on the disorder.
Everett Public Schools' Response
The Science of Reading is a body of research collected over more than two decades which outlines how children learn to read and leverages the most impactful instructional practices. These include a focus on foundational reading skills such as Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension.
In order to meet the requirements of the WA Dyslexia Law, Everett Public Schools (EPS) launched a comprehensive professional learning series on Science of Reading in December 2019. This included sessions for all stakeholders – principals, assistant principals, K-5 teachers, paraeducators, coaches and central office facilitators. Over the course of the 2020 school year, we implemented strategies and best practices to support foundational reading skills and word study. The same learning will be shared with newly hired teachers annually in the summer.
In 2021, EPS invited interested community members and staff to participate in a Dyslexia Advisory Committee. The group met five times throughout the year. The committee reviewed the law, research, and information on dyslexia and the Science of Reading. Committee members also researched how other districts in the region were responding to the Dyslexia Law. From this process, we were able to hear from the committee about concerns, respond to questions, and share resources.
How Does this Impact Students and Families?
To meet the requirements of the Dyslexia Law, an early literacy screening process is required.
School districts must select assessment tools from an approved list provided by OSPI. Following an extensive review process, EPS selected the iReady Reading diagnostic tool and Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) screener. The iReady assessment measures a student’s performance and progress in specific foundational skills for reading. Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) is a task that measures how quickly individuals can name aloud objects, pictures, colors, or symbols.
EPS K-2 teachers screen all students to identify those who might be at risk for reading difficulties. K-2 teachers will provide differentiated instruction and intervention based on assessment results to ensure students are receiving the instruction and practice they need. Teachers will review the plans with families during family conferences for awareness and support.
Students will be screened per the timeline below:
While these assessment tools help identify students who are struggling readers and develop plans to support them, being a struggling reader does not mean a student has dyslexia. Often, with additional support and focused instruction around foundational reading skills, students make progress. If they do not make progress over time, families are encouraged to consult their pediatrician or other medical professional.
Tips for Families to Support Reading
In addition to exposure to new words, increased vocabulary, sound recognition, and imagination stimulation, reading helps develop your child’s cognitive skills, ability to focus, and communication skills.
Reading with your child strengthens the bond and connection between you. Reading with your child helps you identify any reading difficulties at a very early stage. This information could be vital when you first meet with your child’s kindergarten (and other grades) teacher(s).
Following are tips for you to consider when your child experiences reading difficulties:
ο Find out what your child is interested in and choose books that match their interests
ο Model for your child by reading in front them
ο Read together every day – read aloud
ο Talk about the pictures: What do you see? What do you think the story is about?
ο Talk about the story: author, illustrator, characters, setting
ο Read with humor and expression: make the process enjoyable
ο Point out familiar letters and words: your child’s name, familiar words like mom/dad, words that rhyme
ο Tell your child how much you enjoy reading together
What is dyslexia? – By The Understood Team - Learn more about Dyslexia signs and symptoms and possible causes
Watch a video with Margie Gillis, Ed.D. Literacy Expert Who Teaches Kids With Dyslexia-President, Literacy How
What is Early Literacy? - By Lexington Public Library
Read about the five early literacy practices identified by Children's Librarians
Looking at Reading Interventions – By Reading Rockets
Watch a special new video series with reading expert Linda Farrell working one-on-one with students
What the Science Says About How Kids Learn to Read – By Education Week
Watch a video with Sarah Schwartz, Reporter, Education Week
Helping Struggling Readers - By Reading Rockets
Watch a video on ‘Why is Reading So Hard’ with Margie Gillis, Ed.D
Connecting Letters and Sounds in Everyday Activities – By Understood for learning & attention issues
Watch a 2-minute tutorial with Elizabeth Babbin, M.Ed. Reading Specialist
11 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Read – By Reading Rockets – Blogs About Reading – Shanahan on Literacy
11 practical recommendations for helping preschoolers and school-age students learn to read by Timothy Shanahan