Researchers estimate that dyslexia affects one in five individuals. Yet, it is often misdiagnosed or missed entirely. Even more common than a misdiagnosis is the likelihood that a student with dyslexia will find themself in a classroom without the resources to become a successful reader. In fact, according to the International Dyslexia Association, only about 5 percent of students who have dyslexia are properly identified and given support.

Fortunately, we already have the tools to change these realities. For the last 18 years, I have trained teachers and paraprofessionals to effectively administer screening tools. I have walked teachers and administrators through how to use the screening data to inform their instruction. In addition to screening support, I have trained thousands of teachers across multiple states and districts to use structured literacy, an approach rooted in the science of reading. And I have seen the impact of this work firsthand, from boosting student confidence in the classroom to improving lackluster reading scores.

If states and districts commit to properly training teachers in the science of reading and leverage effective and efficient screening tools, we can help ensure all students with dyslexia learn how to read.

In recent months, more states across the country have begun to mandate universal dyslexia screening for children in kindergarten through second grade. Last month, California joined the list of 40 other states that have legislation requiring dyslexia screenings in early education. But of these states, only 30 legally require an intervention for students with this extremely common learning disability. These universal screeners, mostly for students in kindergarten through second grade, also exclude a crucial group — students in third through fifth grade who have not been properly identified in a timely manner.

According to the National Center for Improving Literacy, a partnership between literacy experts, researchers and technical assistance providers focused on increasing evidence-based approaches to serving students with literacy-related disabilities, the term screening refers to a brief evaluation — no more than five minutes — to identify the risk of performing below a benchmark on a specified literacy outcome, such as segmenting words. These screenings serve as a risk indicator and not a formal diagnosis. They are just the first step in a process that prompts educators to do further diagnostic assessments to determine foundational skill gaps for students. Then if gaps are identified, students should receive a research-based reading intervention that is systematic and explicit in targeting the identified skill gaps.

The rise in legislation surrounding dyslexia screeners for students in kindergarten through second grade is a wonderful step in the right direction. Still, without training, support and resources to effectively provide interventions for these students, the impact of these screeners will end at that initial red flag. As students continue to struggle with reading nationally and dyslexia remains prevalent, the importance of research-based literacy training for all teachers should become a top priority.

Read the full article about screening for dyslexia by Laurie Dilbeck   at EdSurge.