What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a common condition that affects the way the brain processes language. Dyslexia makes it difficult for students to read and spell, but is not a sign of low intelligence. The Alabama State Department of Education (2015) defines dyslexia as a “learning challenge that is neurological in origin and 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 delivery 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.”
What are the changes related to dyslexia?
The Alabama State Board of Education Dyslexia Resolution was approved April 8, 2015. The Dyslexia Resolution defined dyslexia, recognized the educational implications, called for the creation of a Dyslexia Advisory Council, and called for revision of the Alabama Administrative Code to address dyslexia and subsequent services needed to ensure the success of students with dyslexia.
How is the Calhoun County school system responding to these changes?
We are committed to continual professional learning that will prepare our teachers and leaders to effectively support students identified as exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia. Below are some of the changes already in place related to dyslexia:
- Selected Teachers have been trained to administer the dyslexia-specific screening assessment
- Selected teachers have been trained to administer dyslexia specific accommodations and interventions
- All certified staff participated in a professional study focused on dyslexia awareness, screening, changes to the RtI process, and a review of the Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide.
- Our Problem Solving Team (PST) guidelines were revised to include dyslexia specific information.
- Professional development opportunities for teachers regarding dyslexia support will be offered throughout the school year.
How do you know if a student is exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia?
If a student scores below benchmark on their school’s reading screening, a dyslexia specific screening assessment will be administered. Parents may also request a dyslexia specific screening if they have concerns. School employees cannot diagnose dyslexia, but can screen for dyslexia using instruments included in the Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide.
What if a student has a diagnosis of dyslexia or fails the dyslexia specific screening?
If a student is identified as exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia on the dyslexia-specific screening assessment or has a diagnosis of dyslexia, he or she will receive dyslexia specific accommodations and/or interventions in order to provide equal access to curriculum. These accommodations/interventions will be developed, monitored and communicated to parents by the school’s Problem Solving Team (PST) as part of the RtI Process discussed in section 3, page 15 of the Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide.
What classroom strategies or accommodations can be implemented to support students exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia?
The Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide includes an entire section about classroom accommodations and strategies. A small sampling is listed below. These accommodations are critical to student success.
Clarify or simplify directions
Highlight essential information
Develop reading guides
Provide a copy of lecture notes
Use step by step instructions
Use of graphic organizers
Use cues to denote important items
Display work samples
Flexible work times
Provide additional practice
Adjust or substitute assignments
What intervention resources are available to support students exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia?
Every school in our system has teachers trained to administer the dyslexia-specific screening assessment. We also have teachers in each school trained to implement dyslexia specific interventions. Dyslexia specific resources available in our district are below:
Orton Gillingham (educator-level trained)