What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is defined 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. (Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide, 2020).
All students take the STAR Early Literacy of STAR Reading assessment as a universal screener approved by the AL Literacy Task Force. Students who fall below benchmark on the universal screener for reading are automatically further screened for specific deficiencies in letter naming, letter sounds, phonemic awareness, nonsense word fluency, and alphabet skills fluency (grades K-1) or for deficiencies in accuracy of word reading in on-grade-level text, spelling skills, phonemic decoding efficiency, sight word reading efficiency, and alphabet skills efficiency (grades 2-12).
The results of universal screenings are used to determine students’ need for intervention, additional assessment, and screenings for characteristics of dyslexia. Students who fail three of the five dyslexia-specific screenings are considered to demonstrate characteristics similar to dyslexia and are considered for participation in SPIRE, a dyslexia-specific reading intervention program. In addition, Homewood K-3 teachers complete the Shaywitz Dyslexia Screen each January to further identify students who may be exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia.
All K-12 teachers participate in mandatory dyslexia awareness training annually. As of May 2021, 114 K-12 teachers district wide have completed Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE) Orton-Gillingham training, which is accredited by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). In addition, two reading coaches and the literacy specialist have earned IMSE Comprehensive Certification and passed the KPEERI exam to be designated certified structured literacy teachers. All reading coaches and the literacy specialist are currently participating in LETRS training provided by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE).
Each elementary school is staffed with a reading coach and reading interventionists. A literacy specialist serves all three elementary schools. Learning Ally, an audiobook resource, is available to any K-12 student with a reading deficiency, blind/visual impairment, or other disability that makes reading print difficult. All K-12 students have access to TextHelp, which includes Read and Write for Google Chrome, Fluency Tutor, and Snapverter.