Accurately defining and identifying reading disabilities in schools has been a hot topic for decades, with dyslexia garnering the most attention. So far, 47 states have enacted dyslexia-related legislation, according to Dyslegia. However, states like California have faced resistance when trying to pass similar legislation due to concerns regarding taking time from instruction or overidentification of English learners.
Although screening for dyslexia in schools is crucial, it remains a complex issue for families, schools, communities, and state governments. For instance, when a kindergartner's dyslexia screening results indicate problems, experts say it's common for schools to wait until third grade before a formal diagnoses is made. Reading researchers tell us the ideal window of opportunity for addressing reading difficulties is during kindergarten and first grade. Additional studies report that a lack of proper assessment and intervention can increase the risk of dropping out of school and can cause depression and low self-esteem.
And even though dyslexia affects 20 percent of the population, there are other reading disorders beyond dyslexia. Furthermore, children who have dyslexia are often at a higher risk for related learning disabilities, such as written expression or speech and language disorders. Experts believe that reading disorders can result from specific differences in how the brain processes written words and text. Different subtypes of dyslexia can arise from these combinations. Determining the presence of a reading disorder and the specific dyslexia subtype can make a considerable difference in accurate identification and effective intervention.
In this three-part series, we delve into the difficulties faced by parents, school administrators, and school psychologists in identifying reading disorders in students, exploring each group's unique concerns and perspectives, and uncover the power of targeted diagnostic assessments in overcoming the obstacles that hinder a student's reading progress and overall achievement.