How We Address Dyslexia/Reading Difficulties
The Anchorage School District (ASD) uses a Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) which is defined as an integrated, multi-tiered system of instruction, assessment, and intervention designed to meet the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of ALL students, including those with dyslexia/reading difficulties. This three-tiered framework utilizes high quality evidence based instruction and assessment practices to ensure that every student receives the appropriate level of support to be successful.
The Three-Tiered Framework
Tier I: Core Instruction
All students receive high quality scientific, research-based instruction from teachers in the core curriculum. Core academic and behavioral instruction is differentiated, culturally responsive, and occurs in the general education setting. At this level, teachers match students’ prerequisite skills with course content to create an appropriate instructional match and use evidence-based instructional strategies with integrity.
At the core instruction level, universal screening for all students provides an indicator of student performance at critical points throughout the school year. Core instruction is aligned to key learning standards and provides the foundations upon which more targeted and intensified interventions are formulated. Core instruction, including advanced coursework, should meet the needs of approximately 80 percent of the student population.
*Core instructions includes explicit instructional routines that address phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension (Big 5 / ECORI) which is essential for all students to learn to read, especially those who experience Dyslexia.
**Advanced coursework can include additional opportunities for practice which is essential for those who experience Dyslexia.
Tier 2: Targeted Instruction
In addition to core instruction, some students (approximately 15 percent) will need targeted instruction. Students who need targeted instruction are identified through screening data, teacher referral, review of past performance, and other data sources. Targeted instruction supplements, not replaces, core instruction and should be based on identified needs of the student. These needs are determined by formative, diagnostic and progress monitoring assessments.
This instruction is intended to be short-term in duration (e.g., 6-12 week intervals, up to a single semester), is generally provided in smaller groups (as FTE permits), and may occur in the classroom or other settings. Implementation of targeted instruction is more effective and efficient when aligned to core instruction and time is built into the master schedule. If the student continues to make inadequate growth, a Student Support Team or Department meeting should be requested to problem-solve and develop intensified instruction for the student.
* Targeted instruction at this level may include Dyslexia Specific Interventions. Frequency and intensity will vary depending on individual needs.
** Dyslexia specific Interventions can be provided by a teacher, TA, or staff member with supported district level trainings. Examples of evidence-based, dyslexia specific interventions used in our district are Priority Plans for Tier I, II, and III, K/1 Star Binder, Phonics for Reading, SIPPS, Heggarty, and Barton.
Tier 3: Intensified Instruction
A small proportion of students (approximately 1-5 percent) will require more intensified instruction, replacement curriculum, and/or individualized behavior plan. Students receiving intensified instruction are those students who are performing significantly below standards and who have not adequately responded to high-quality instruction provided through the core and targeted instruction.
Intensified instruction is substituted for the core and targeted instruction with the intention of accelerating levels of proficiency so students may return to core instruction. Scientifically evidence-based intensified instruction and district-sponsored, replacement curriculum is more explicit, systematic and is provided in smaller groups. Students receiving intensified instruction are monitored more frequently to evaluate the effects of instruction in a timely manner. If the student continues to make inadequate growth, a Student Support Team (SST) or department meeting should be requested to problem-solve ways to intensify and adjust instructional variables.
ASD outlines ways to help families understand dyslexia, and defines how ASD addresses reading skills in a child's educational experience.
IDA Alaska provides a forum where parents, educators and individuals with dyslexia share their experience and knowledge about this neurobiological condition that affects up to 20 % of the US population. Since 2009 we have been working to educate, support and advocate for the genetic nature of dyslexia and to identify which assessments and instructional approaches help Alaskans read better. We also collaborate with other organizations working on behalf of people struggling to read.
An Essential Resource Provided by the National Center for Learning Disabilities
Ways to help your child improve their literacy skills
- Read with your child daily
- Read it again and again
- Teach young children to listen for letter sounds (e.g., initial sound - pig & pin)
- Play rhyming and word games
- Allow your child to make their own book choices (i.e., nonfiction, fantasy, comic book, etc.)
- Have books and magazines available for your child at home
- Visit your local library
- Don’t leave home without something to read
- Encourage your child to keep a daily journal
- Set a regular time for doing homework
- Create a family scrapbook
- Encourage your child to develop talents not related to reading to build self-confidence
- Meet and talk to your child’s teacher
- Learn about reading difficulties and how to further support your child (See Additional Resources)
What is a Universal Screener?
Universal screening is the first step in evaluating the effectiveness of core instruction for all students. It is also the mechanism for identifying students who need advanced coursework, as well as students who are experiencing unproductive struggle to learn (Jenkins, Hudson, & Johnson, 2007).
Who is tested?
All K-8th grade students in Anchorage School District will be administered standards-based assessments in reading and mathematics.
When and how often?
Students will be screened 3 times a year, in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. District-wide assessment for screening identifies annual and catch-up growth in core subject areas. See our Assessments Calendar for more information.
What is the purpose of the screeners?
These assessments are designed to gather evidence of student learning. They are used to recognize students’ strengths and weaknesses as well indicate a need for more intensive instruction, interventions, advanced coursework.
The progress of the student is then monitored to inform ongoing decision-making, the impact of instruction, and necessary strategic adjustments. Monitoring includes ongoing formative program assessments and curriculum based measures.
What assessments are used within the ASD?
ASD utilizes Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA’s) MAP Growth Reading and Mathematics Assessments for universal screening in grades 3-9 and FastBridge Learning for academic screening in K-2. Some schools also use tools to screen for behaviors and social and emotional learning needs in schools. Additional assessments may be used to gather more information.
Questions and Answers about Dyslexia for Parents
What is dyslexia?
What causes dyslexia?
What are the effects of dyslexia?
What is the Screening Requirement?
What does it mean if my child is identified as high risk on the FastBridge screener?
How can I support my child if they are struggling with reading and who should I contact with my concerns?
My student is no longer in kindergarten, but I think they should be screened. Who should I contact?