What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific learning challenge that is neurological 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 comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge (Alabama Administrative Code 2903120).
How does Vestavia Hills City Schools identify students with characteristics of dyslexia?
Screening for characteristics of dyslexia is a proactive way to address skill deficits through appropriate interventions. Screening results that reflect characteristics of dyslexia do not necessarily mean that a student has dyslexia nor can dyslexia be diagnosed through a screening alone.
Every student participates in a universal reading screener. If a student scores below average benchmark on the school’s universal reading screener (Easy CBM or Scantron), the Student Support Team (SST) will analyze screening and progress monitoring data to assist teachers in planning and implementing appropriate instruction and evidence-based interventions for all students with academic and/or behavioral difficulties, including those students who exhibit the characteristics of dyslexia.
Guidance may include suggestions of appropriate tiered interventions, dyslexia specific interventions, academic accommodations as appropriate, and access to assistive technology. The Student Support Team will determine which students participate in additional literacy screenings and determine the need for dyslexia-specific intervention. The dyslexia-specific intervention, as defined in AAC Rule 290-3-1-.02(20)(f) and described in the Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide, shall be provided by an individual who has expertise in providing dyslexia-specific interventions.
Additionally, students will be provided with dyslexia-specific screenings upon teacher or parent request. The four screening skill indicators for students in first grade and above are Phonemic Decoding Efficiency Skills, Sight Word Reading Efficiency Skills, Spelling Skills, and Accuracy of Word Reading with On-Grade Level Passages.
Kindergarten students who score in the below-average range on the reading screening in the fall should be provided with tiered intervention as determined by the Student Support Team. Dyslexia specific screening for students in kindergarten will be conducted during the winter benchmark period. Dyslexia-specific screening for students in kindergarten will provide the student with the opportunity to demonstrate Letter Naming skill, Letter Sound skill, Phoneme Segmentation skill, and Nonsense Word Fluency skill.
For more information, visit the International Dyslexia Association: https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-basics/
What if a student fails the dyslexia specific screening?
The Student Support Team (SST) will review all available data including dyslexia-specific screening data to determine needs. The Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide will be used as a resource for determining intervention needs, including classroom strategies and accommodations. These accommodations/interventions will be developed, monitored and communicated to the parents by the school's Students Support Team(SST) as part of the RTI process. Independent dyslexia evaluations provided by a parent or guardian to the SST will be considered by the team.
What interventions, resources and supports are available to meet the needs of students who exhibit characteristics of dyslexia?
Vestavia Hills City Schools is committed to providing ongoing professional development that will prepare our teachers to effectively support students exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia. Our district has more than 10 Multisensory Structured Language Education trained teachers. Teachers and administrators in our district have received dyslexia awareness training. Our instructional coaches and interventionists receive ongoing training in dyslexia-specific interventions and strategies. Below are dyslexia specific resources available in our district: