I am a teacher and I had the opportunity to do a presentation for 40 teachers in my district that were interested in learning more about dyslexia. After my presentation, my building principal asked what we can do to help these kids. At the present time, very little is being done. The K-2 building does Wilson reading and Fundations, but that is as far as it goes. Do you have any suggestions that I can give her? I feel that administration is more open to suggestions than ever before and I would love to be able to make a big change in our district for the better, but I'm not sure where to go from here. Any suggestions or advice that you could give me would be much appreciated. Thank you so much for your time.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

Wilson and Fundations are highly regarded, evidenced-based programs, so I am pleased to see that your district implemented these. I would think that this would help students get on the right track or back on the right track. Hopefully, the district is implementing the programs with fidelity (i.e., according to the recommended guidelines).

The International Dyslexia Association adopted the term “structured literacy” to describe the intervention that is needed for students with dyslexia (and general reading disorders). Here are some links to information that address pieces of structured literacy intervention. Given that your questions are in regard to K-2, I'm not adding suggestions as to what I think would be necessary for older students.

First of all, early identification is key. Although I know the schools do not want to "diagnose" dyslexia -- good screening is essential. And then for those students who are not making progress or who meet the criteria for further testing, a good comprehensive assessment is necessary. Diagnosticians who know how to diagnose dyslexia, which is a specific learning disability, are critical. In regard to a screening tool, your district might want to look at the PAR. A search will reveal a number of scholarly articles about it. It has good validity and reliability.

I do think teachers and special education staff need professional development opportunities. If people are really interested, I recommend attending the IDA annual conference (and joining IDA). The conference is always excellent and is not for experts only. Your state will have its own IDA branch that you could join. (In these COVID-19 times, they are doing a virtual conference.) I'd connect people with DyslexiaHelp. I recommend Lousie Moats' book Speech to Text: Language Essentials for Teachers. I also highly recommend David Kilpatrick's book Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties. I have all of those and more listed here. There are lots and lots of resources on DyslexiaHelp. You will find a ton of information on this tab (and the subtabs).