Dyslexia Information

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Estimates reveal that as many as 15-20% of people have dyslexia at varying degrees. Because of this, it is important to know some basic facts about it.

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. These difficulties in phonological awareness are unexpected for the person’s age and educational level. Additionally, there is often a family history of similar difficulties.

The process of identifying dyslexia starts with screening. Throughout Texas, all kindergarten, first and second grade students are screened. Seventh graders who failed STAAR are also screened. If screening indicates the possibility of dyslexia, letters are sent home to get permission for testing and to get further information. Once the information is returned, the testing process can start. Students are given a battery of tests and cumulative data is collected. If testing, data collection and family surveys reveal that the problem is likely dyslexia, a letter will be sent home requesting a meeting. The dyslexia committee will then meet with the parents to make decisions about how best to serve the student.

When a student at Marfa ISD is determined to need dyslexia intervention, they are placed in a pull-out program called Reading by Design. This program is offered in small group arrangements and includes a holistic approach to reading, writing and spelling. The major instructional strategies utilize individualized, intensive and multisensory methods. Instruction is organized and presented in a way that follows a logical, sequential plan, fits the nature of language and has no assumption of prior skills or language knowledge, and maximizes student engagement. This instruction proceeds at a rate commensurate with students’ needs, ability levels and demonstration of progress. A reading curriculum that matches each student’s individual ability level and contains all of the components of instruction mandated by the state is also incorporated.

Students with dyslexia, dyslexia characteristics and reading difficulties may be eligible for a wide range of accommodations on all content areas of the STAAR. If the student has accommodations, they must use them routinely in classroom and testing situations. The accommodation decisions and plans will be made and documented by a Student Support Team, a Section 504 Committee, or an ARD Committee depending on the situation.

Students meeting the eligibility may have access to oral administration of question and answer choices for the reading portion of the STAAR. Oral administration of test question and answer choices (including reading of tables, graphs, etc.) in the subject areas of mathematics, science and social studies is also an allowable accommodation for eligible students. For STAAR writing in fourth, seventh, and English I-III, writing prompts ONLY may be read aloud to eligible dyslexic students. The student’s committee may also decide that the student needs extended time, allowable until the end of the school day. For further accommodation guidelines go to the link below. http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/accommodations/staar-telpas/

Cinda Muench is the dyslexia coordinator at Marfa ISD. She has a master’s degree in education, certification as a diagnostician and a specialty in special education. She was trained and taught the dyslexia program 30 years ago, at the beginning of the movement for dyslexia legislation. Mrs. Muench was retrained when she took the dyslexia position at MISD. Please contact her at the Marfa Elementary School, 432-729-5500, should you have questions regarding dyslexia or related matters.