Recent years have seen an increase in awareness of the importance of early intervention for dyslexia. Schools in many states are now screening for dyslexia as a result of legislative laws being passed and a movement toward more equitable support for all learners. This proactive approach identifies students who are at risk and allows educational teams to create a specific support plan, setting explicit goals for students’ individual deficits. By increasing dyslexia screening efforts, schools are taking an essential step toward ensuring that students with dyslexia receive the help they need as early as possible.
Preparing Educators to Address Dyslexia
According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), just a quarter of teacher preparation programs comprehensively address all five essential components of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension). The NCTQ also discovered that almost 60 percent of teacher preparation programs allocate less than two hours total of instructional time to understanding and supporting students with dyslexia.
Additional research shows that if students had access to teachers trained in scientifically-backed reading instruction, over 90% of all students could acquire proficient reading skills. Given the widespread reading difficulties students face nationwide, teachers must undergo comprehensive, structured literacy training in their teacher preparation programs and continue to receive professional development opportunities throughout their careers.
Supporting Learners with Dyslexia in the Classroom
There are many ways educators can support students with dyslexia in the classroom. Tools and strategies include:
- Utilize graphic organizers, charts, outlines, and webs to support students’ understanding of key points during lectures, presentations, etc.
- Provide step-by-step instructions and frequent check-ins to ensure students understand, remember, and maintain focus on the assignment.
- Promote organization and task-completion by chunking work into smaller, manageable sections.
- Build in time for consistent and targeted review of concepts on a daily basis.
- Provide alternatives to written assessments with options such as: oral presentations, online slidedecks, and digital stories.
- Use multi-sensory techniques, like Orton-Gillingham, to provide students with ample opportunities to understand content.
Other instrumental tools to support students with dyslexia include Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and 504 Plans.
Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
IEPs are customized educational roadmaps designed to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. These legal documents outline specific goals, strategies, and accommodations tailored to the individual student’s strengths and challenges. These plans can address various aspects of a student’s education, including academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. IEPs serve as a blueprint for educators to follow, ensuring that students with disabilities receive the support required to access the curriculum, participate in classroom activities, and progress academically and socially.
For students who may not qualify for an IEP but still require accommodations, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 creates 504 Plans. These plans grant students with dyslexia access to reasonable accommodations, such as extended time on tests, use of assistive technology, or alternative methods of instruction. These plans focus not on individualized instruction but on creating a level playing field for all students.
The development and implementation of these plans are collaborative efforts involving educators, parents, and specialists, ensuring that the student’s educational experience is adapted accordingly. As educators, parents, and advocates, our shared dedication to empowering students with dyslexia reflects the best of inclusive education, where diversity is celebrated and every learner can succeed.
Be sure to check back for the rest of the series to be released this Dyslexia Awareness Month:
- Demystifying Dyslexia: A Comprehensive Guide for Educators Part 1 of 4
- Diagnosing Dyslexia Part 2 of Demystifying Dyslexia: A Comprehensive Guide for Educators
- Orton-Gillingham and Dyslexia Part 4 of Demystifying Dyslexia: A Comprehensive Guide for Educators
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