District Administration December2017 - 47
BY ELEANOR CHUTE
Understanding the condition-and intervening early
and often-gives students better chance of success
ducators know that most dyslexic students will need
interventions and accommodations throughout
school, but best practices continue to evolve as more
is learned about this reading disability.
Addressing dyslexia should start with universal screening in
kindergarten or first grade, if not sooner, says Marilyn Zecher, a
language therapist who provides PD with the Atlantic Seaboard
Dyslexia Education Center in Maryland. "If we use a wait-tofail model and we don't flag students until third grade, they're
already three years behind," Zecher says.
When help isn't provided, gaps in vocabulary and background knowledge grow because a student does little reading,
which results in a need for intensive and explicit instruction in
the structure of language as the student ages, says Louisa Moats,
a consultant who's chairing the rewrite of the International
Dyslexia Association's Knowledge and Practice Standards for
Teachers of Reading.
"In kindergarten, if you do a half-hour a day of intensive
instruction, that can have a very beneficial effect," Moats says.
"In first grade, it might be 45 minutes but in second and third
grade, it's more like an hour. Beyond third grade, it's an hour
and a half to two hours."
In the general classroom, some schools are providing accommodations, such as extra time for completing assignments or
tests, opportunities to demonstrate knowledge orally, and practice using assistive technology such as audiobooks. Some students are placed in small groups where they receive explicit and
systematic instruction on the structure of language.
A delay in getting help has long-range consequences beyond
reading success, says Sally Shaywitz, a professor of learning de-
December 2017 47