At one time or another, we’ve all heard a kid declare, “I hate school!” This frustration may stem from a struggle with reading. Students with dyslexia face far greater obstacles than their classmates when it comes to building literacy skills. And those who don’t achieve reading proficiency by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school, according to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Early intervention is critical, yet only 31 states have passed legislation requiring student screening for dyslexia, according to the National Center on Improving Literacy.
Testing for Dyslexia in Schools
How can educators identify at-risk students and address their needs? Here are six steps to test a child for dyslexia.
1. Make dyslexia screening universal.
The International Dyslexia Association recommends screening every student in your school for dyslexia. This can give you a glimpse into how all of your students are performing, not just those who struggle with reading.
2. Choose a time-saving assessment tool.
Using a digital dyslexia screener is a way to get quick, accurate, and unbiased results. You don’t need additional training or data analysis. A digital screener does the analysis for you, saving time for you to focus on instruction. Some can get the job done in as little as five minutes.
3. Make sure the screener includes key components.
Choose a screener that has the Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN) component, which tests students’ ability to quickly and effortlessly identify letters, symbols, phonemes, words, and objects.
4. Determine the number of students to be tested.
When using a digital screener, make sure you have enough computers, desks, and chairs for the number of students being screened at one time.
5. Notify parents or guardians.
Let parents know that all students will be screened for dyslexia and other reading challenges. Be ready to explain the reasoning behind this decision.
6. Review the results.
A screening is not a diagnosis. A screening only identifies those students who need intervention and those who don’t. Follow up with an expert for an official diagnosis.
Whatever the results, be sure to carve out time for explicit and systematic teaching of phonics, which benefits every student. Follow the International Dyslexia Association’s recommendations for a structured literacy program that teaches phonology, morphology, phonics, letter sounds, fluency, and reading comprehension. For strategies based in the science of reading, check out the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse. Inquire within your school district or state department of education about dyslexia advisors who can recommend local resources.
For more information on testing for dyslexia in schools, listen in on this webinar with award-winning educator and administrator Dr. Suzanne Jimenez.
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