What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a common condition that affects the way the brain processes language. Dyslexia makes it difficult for students to read and spell, but is not a sign of low intelligence. The Alabama State Department of Education (2015) defines dyslexia as a “learning challenge that is neurological in origin and characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the delivery of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

What are the changes related to dyslexia?

The Alabama State Board of Education Dyslexia Resolution was approved April 8, 2015. The Dyslexia Resolution defined dyslexia, recognized the educational implications, called for the creation of a Dyslexia Advisory Council, and called for revision of the Alabama Administrative Code to address dyslexia and subsequent services needed to ensure the success of students with dyslexia.

How is the Shelby County school system responding to these changes?

We are committed to continual professional learning that will prepare our teachers and leaders to effectively support students identified as exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia. Below are some of the changes already in place related to dyslexia:

  • All schools have teachers trained to administer the dyslexia-specific screening assessment
  • All schools have teachers trained to administer dyslexia specific accommodations and interventions
  • All school and district leaders participated in a professional study focused on dyslexia awareness, screening, changes to the RtI process, and a review of the Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide. The school leaders turned this information around to every teacher in their school.
  • Our Problem Solving Team (PST) guidelines were revised to include dyslexia specific information. Our school principals, PST coordinators and lead teachers were trained on the changes.
  • Professional development opportunities for teachers regarding dyslexia support will be offered throughout the school year.

How do you know if a student is exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia?

If a student scores below benchmark on their school’s reading screening, a dyslexia specific screening assessment will be administered. Parents may also request a dyslexia specific screening if they have concerns. School employees cannot diagnose dyslexia, but can screen for dyslexia using instruments included in the Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide.

What if a student has a diagnosis of dyslexia or fails the dyslexia specific screening?

If a student is identified as exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia on the dyslexia-specific screening assessment or has a diagnosis of dyslexia, he or she will receive dyslexia specific accommodations and/or interventions in order to provide equal access to curriculum. These accommodations/interventions will be developed, monitored and communicated to parents by the school’s Problem Solving Team (PST) as part of the RtI Process discussed in section 3, page 15 of the Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide. Follow this ink to learn more about the Shelby County Schools PST process regarding dyslexia.[PST Guidelines Regarding Dyslexia - Grades 1st - 12th]

What classroom strategies or accommodations can be implemented to support students exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia?

The Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide includes an entire section about classroom accommodations and strategies. A small sampling is listed below. These accommodations are critical to student success.

  • Assistive technology
  • Clarify or simplify directions
  • Highlight essential information
  • Develop reading guides
  • Provide a copy of lecture notes
  • Use step by step instructions
  • Use of graphic organizers
  • Use cues to denote important items
  • Display work samples
  • Peer learning
  • Flexible work times
  • Provide additional practice
  • Adjust or substitute assignments

What intervention resources are available to support students exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia?

Every school in our system has teachers trained to administer the dyslexia-specific screening assessment. We also have teachers in each school trained to implement a variety of dyslexia specific interventions. In addition, all of our district literacy coaches and PST teacher leaders are trained to administer the dyslexia specific screening assessment and to implement dyslexia specific interventions. Dyslexia specific resources available in our district are below:

  • Orton Gillingham (educator-level trained)
  • MindPlay
  • S.P.I.R..E


Our district will have ongoing professional develop about dyslexia specific interventions throughout the school year. We also have a district literacy coach trained at the CALT Dyslexia therapist level.


Teacher Specific Resources Parent & Teacher Resources
Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide Alabama Dyslexia Resource Guide
PST Guidelines Regarding Dyslexia - Kindergarten Dyslexia Quick Reference
Dyslexia Screening & Needs Assessment Profile - Kindergarten IDA Dyslexia Handbook
PST Guidelines Regarding Dyslexia - Grades 1st - 12th Dyslexia Basics
Dyslexia Screening & Needs Assessment Profile - Grades 1st - 12th International Dyslexia Association
Dyslexia Resources Request Form Decoding Dyslexia Alabama
Teacher Observation Checklist KidsHealth
Dyslexia/PST Parent Notification Letter Smartkids
Dyslexia/PST Parent Notification Letter [spa] Bright Solutions- Susan Baton
SPIRE Dyslexia Simulation
MindPlay Login Understood.org
Parental Decline of Dyslexia Intervention Program Talking to your child - Yale.edu
Request Read & Write Google License for a Student Talking to your child - KidsHealth.org
- What is Dyscalculia  
- nbsp;
- Dyscalculia Simulation
- MindPlay Login
- Video - What is Dyslexia?
- Video - Big Picture Movie Trailer
- Video - What is Dyscalculia?
- Video - Read&Write for Google Chrome

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