Procedures that schools use to determine whether an individual has characteristics of dyslexia vary according to state laws. In Tennessee, the primary route for a child to be identified with characteristics of dyslexia is through a process of universal screening performed within public schools using the “Response to Instruction and Intervention” (RTI2) framework. The RTI2 framework is designed to focus on prevention and early intervention in order to provide high quality instruction and intervention matched to the needs of the student while frequently monitoring the student’s progress to help inform educational decisions. All students are taught in the Tier 1 setting (for example, their core reading class). Based on screening data and other assessment results, students may receive additional support in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 setting (small groups of students working on similar skills-based deficits). Tennessee public schools are required to provide this free screening for characteristics of dyslexia, as well as dyslexia-specific intervention when indicated.
When an educational disability is suspected (including specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia), parents of children who are homeschooled or in private school have the right to request an evaluation at no cost from the local public school district. Those parents should contact the special education office of the local school district for more information on this process.
Tennessee law (HB 2616 / SB 2635) mandates that public school students identified with characteristics of dyslexia are to receive a dyslexia-specific intervention in their school. The instructional needs of students with characteristics of dyslexia can vary. Some children’s needs can be met within the general education setting (i.e., through Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions). Other students may need more intensive services through special education. Parents or school personnel may refer a student for a special education evaluation, which would require written parent consent before an evaluation occurs. Parents have the right to request an evaluation from the public school at any time regardless of where their child is in the RTI2 process.
Early identification and intervention are the key to helping individuals with characteristics of dyslexia learn the skills they need to achieve in reading. Because of our limited availability to conduct student assessments, parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to pursue screening or evaluation through the public school identification procedures.
Center staff tests a limited number of individuals each year. These evaluations are designed to identify a student’s patterns of strengths and weaknesses in oral comprehension, basic reading skills, reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling, and phonological processes within the context of their educational and family history. Based on this information, we are able to identify individuals whose literacy profiles are consistent with dyslexia and provide individualized instructional recommendations.
If you wish to pursue evaluation through the Center, please visit Evaluation Criteria to determine if your child is eligible for evaluation at the Center.
If you would like more information about identification of characteristics of dyslexia in the schools, please visit the links below:
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Combining phonological awareness instruction with letter knowledge promotes proficiency with early decoding and spelling. Students need to become both accurate and automatic with letter naming and letter writing in support of their literacy development.