From the District to the Reading Teacher: A Roadmap for Using Screeners to Identify Students with Dyslexia

Many states now require schools to screen students for characteristics of dyslexia. Identifying these students is necessary for them to receive timely and targeted intervention. With the push to transform identification and reading instruction in classrooms across the country, many people are left wondering what this means for students with dyslexia. 

From the district to the reading teacher: A roadmap for using screeners to identify students with dyslexia

This full-day workshop provides straightforward information to support your general education practices, from the district level to the reading teacher.  The workshop specifically focuses on understanding student data generated from universal screening and how core literacy instruction influences universal screening data. Attendees will: 

  • gain insight into the purpose of screening
  • reflect on their current screening practices at the district, school, and classroom levels
  • learn how to use screening data to differentiate student reading profiles. 
  • develop insights into core instructional practices and student needs

Screening decisions are typically made by groups of educators working together. Therefore, we encourage you to register with others from your school to facilitate conversations about your current and future screening practices.


Workshop Schedule

October 11, 2021  

8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. CDT

8:30 – 8:40 
8:40 – 9:15   
Session 1 – Challenges to Implementing Dyslexia Specific Screening Stipulated within State Laws
9:15 – 10:15   Session 2 – Universal Screening: The GPS for Student Reading Data, Part 1
10:15 – 10:30   Break 
10:30 – 11:45   Session 2 – Universal Screening: The GPS for Student Reading Data, Part 2
11:45 – 12:45   Lunch
12:45 – 1:45   Session 3 – Students at the Intersection: Screening for Dyslexia within the MTSS/RTI Framework
1:45 – 2:00   Break
2:00 – 3:00   Session 4 – Choosing the correct route: Determining when a Student has Characteristics of Dyslexia
3:00 –3:30   Closing Remarks and Discussion 


2021-22 Dyslexia Success SeriesContinue your Journey by attending the  2021-22 Dyslexia Success Series!

Destination Intervention: Using Data and Error Analysls to Plan Intervention

This four-part series will support your ability to act on the results of screening data to deliver tiered intervention to students with characteristics of dyslexia. We will use case studies to build your confidence in using data and evidence-based instruction. We will focus on applying your knowledge and skills to intensifying instruction and giving differentiated and meaningful student feedback in the intervention setting. This workshop is beneficial for general educators, exceptional educators, RTI interventionists, literacy coaches, and administrators. This intermediate-level series assumes general knowledge of reading development, instructional content, assessment, and dyslexia. Tools developed by the center to support data and error analysis as well as instructional planning will be modeled and shared. 




Session 1: Challenges to Implementing Dyslexia Specific Screening Stipulated within State Laws

Dyslexia legislation has swept the nation resulting in the passage of dyslexia-specific legislation in all but a handful of states. These laws contain various components, and a common aspect of these laws is dyslexia-specific screening. The language specifying dyslexia-specific screening in these laws seems clear on the surface. However, implementing dyslexia-specific screening in schools has not been as straightforward as hoped. Challenges have surfaced, hindering the efforts to enact these aspects of state law. In part, these challenges arose from stipulations in the laws that do not neatly dovetail with what has been learned about reading development and dyslexia. They also have arisen due to confusion resulting from these mandates running alongside existing procedures and practices for universal screening. And finally, schools have struggled to implement directives for dyslexia-specific screening due to limitations in the nature and types of screening instruments currently available for adoption and use in schools.

This presentation will review stipulations found in dyslexia legislation enacted across the nation related to dyslexia-specific screening. It will also highlight critical challenges that emerge when striving to implement dyslexia-specific screening. It will conclude with some concrete considerations that can guide how educators can overcome obstacles to implementing dyslexia-specific screening in schools.

Session 2: Universal Screening: The GPS for Student Reading Data

Dyslexia identification begins with the universal screening process. Universal screeners assess if a student is on track to arrive at their destination of meeting grade level expectations. They also alert educators to students who may need alternate routes getting there. This session addresses the importance of identifying students at risk of reading disabilities. In addition to answering questions about specific students, screening data can also provide information about a school as a whole. Topics include:

  • the purpose of universal screening and what it can tell us about student risk status
  • why certain skills are measured at different grade levels
  • how screeners can provide clues about the effectiveness of Tier 1 instruction
  • challenges that result when a large number of students fall in the at-risk range

Session 3 – Students at the intersection: Screening for dyslexia within the MTSS/RTI framework

Universal screening data offer a chance to reset the navigation plan for students as needed.  Screening a student for characteristics of dyslexia should occur within your existing MTSS/RTI framework. Session topics include:

  • the definition of dyslexia
  • how to use existing screening data to determine if a student should be considered for dyslexia screening
  • the requirements of Tennessee’s “Say Dyslexia” law
  • how to determine if additional screening is needed to meet the legal requirements

Session 4 – Choosing the correct route: Determining when a student has characteristics of dyslexia

Once data have been collected, school teams are responsible for using that information to determine if a student has characteristics of dyslexia. The goal of this session is to boost your confidence in making those decisions so that all struggling students receive the instruction they need to become proficient readers. Topics include:

  • determining which skills are weaknesses for particular students
  • examining case studies to decide if a student displays characteristics of dyslexia
  • considering a continuum of intervention services

Join us to learn how to refine your existing screening process with the goal of building skill and confidence in identifying students with characteristics of dyslexia and other reading difficulties.


Workshop Presenters

Erin Alexander
  Emily Farris, Ph.D. Assistant Director for Educational Services and Research Initiatives   Melinda Hirschmann Ed.D., CALT Assistant Director for Educational Services and School Outreach  
Erin Alexander, Ed.S., NCSP, CALT     Emily Farris, Ph.D.                   Melinda Hirschmann, Ed.D., CALT  
  Timothy Odegard, Ph.D. Chairholder, Murfree Chair of Excellence in Dyslexic Studies    Jennifer Flipse, Ph.D., Director    
  Timothy Odegard, Ph.D.   Jennifer Flipse, Ph.D.