What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is defined as a learning challenge or disability 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, 2022).
All students take the STAR Early Literacy or STAR Reading assessment as a universal screener approved by the AL Literacy Task Force. The results of universal screenings are used to determine students’ need for reading intervention. Students who are below the benchmark in multiple foundational skills receive reading intervention.
Students who do not make adequate progress in Tier III reading intervention are further screened for characteristics of Dyslexia. Further screenings seek to identify specific deficiencies in letter naming, letter sounds, phonemic awareness, nonsense word fluency, and alphabet skills fluency (grades K-1) or deficiencies in accuracy of word reading in grade-level text, spelling skills, phonemic decoding efficiency, sight word reading efficiency, and alphabet skills efficiency (grades 2-12). Students who fail three of the five dyslexia-specific screenings are considered to demonstrate characteristics similar to dyslexia and are referred to the school's Problem Solving Team (PST). The PST will consider participation in a dyslexia-specific reading intervention program and/or the need for classroom accommodations and supports.
All K-12 teachers participate in mandatory dyslexia awareness training annually. As of August 2022, 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 elementary reading coaches and the elementary literacy specialist have earned IMSE Comprehensive Certification and passed the KPEERI exam to be designated certified structured literacy teachers. All reading coaches, the literacy specialist, and 36 K-5 classroom teachers have completed or are currently participating in LETRS training in the Science of Reading 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.