District Administration January 2020 - 25

SPONSORED CASE STUDY

Computer assessments helping Arkansas
district screen for dyslexia in K-2 students
Istation, a state-approved initial screener, provides data and interventions

A

bout three years ago, Fort Smith School District's K-2
teachers performed 3,000 individual, face-to-face
assessments to identify students at risk in literacy
skills. The next year, the Arkansas district used Istation,
as a state-approved initial screener that also provides
interventions and other resources to support teachers and
students alike.
"Using Istation as an initial screener really saves
teachers time," says Catherine Ford, intervention/dyslexia
coordinator. "It's much quicker to give an assessment to
a whole class or a small group than to assess students
individually, on paper, for each skill."
"And it's very engaging," adds Elementary Math
Coordinator Debra Ellison. "One reason we chose Istation
was because it holds students' attention. It's much more
motivating than using pencil and paper or worksheets."
Research-based assessments
Powered by the science of reading, Istation is grounded
in the National Reading Panel's "Big Five" essential
components of effective reading instruction: phonemic
awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and
vocabulary. At Fort Smith, it is used for state-mandated
formative testing of all students, as well as for statemandated initial screening of students in kindergarten
through second grade.
Students are initially screened by completing Istation
Indicators of Progress (ISIP™) subtests on phonemic
awareness, letter knowledge and spelling. The assessments,
grounded in research, can be done individually or in small
or large groups.
"The results are instant," Ford says. "If a student is
identified as in need of support, we do a more targeted
diagnostic assessment to determine exactly where to start
with intervention."
Intervention resources
Teachers then do face-to-face interventions, with access to
Istation resources such as downloadable student lessons,
books and other materials. "Teachers can modify Istation
interventions according to their needs," Ford says. "Students
can use Istation as a center or to practice skills."
The assessments are repeated monthly as part of the
district's general Istation program, so K-2 students are
being monitored throughout the year.

"Istation helps us catch kids
early so we can provide
targeted interventions."
"The monthly ISIP allows us to constantly monitor
students' progress," Ford says. "If at any point it looks like a
student is struggling, then we look at them for intervention."
'Catch them early'
During the 2017-18 school year, 524 Fort Smith students
were identified with dyslexia characteristics, and 459
students received intervention. The following year, 583
students were identified, and 513 received intervention.
"The numbers are rising because we are getting
better at recognizing and identifying students with the
characteristics," Ford says. "Istation helps us catch kids early
so we can provide targeted interventions; it's much easier to
intervene at K-2 than to remediate later."

For more information, please visit istation.com
Share this story online at DAmag.me/screener


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District Administration January 2020

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