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With the passage of IC20-35.5, et seq., as created by SEA 217 (2018) in April 2018, Indiana school corporations and charter schools' reading plans must now include screening for dyslexia risk factors and indicators in grades K-2.  If a student is determined to be at-risk for dyslexia, the school will administer an additional dyslexia screener (with parent permission), which will identify whether or not the student needs to be referred for further testing.  It also requires schools to use specific response to intervention processes if screeners indicate certain characteristics of dyslexia are present.

House Enrolled Act 1108 defines dyslexia as:
A specific learning disability that:
(1) is neurological in origin and characterized by: difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities;
(2) typically results from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction;;
(3) may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge; and
(4) may require the provision of special education services after an eligibility determination is made in accordance with Article 7.

*Please note that under this definition, dyslexia falls under the category of specific learning disability in the school corporation.  Schools are not qualified to formally diagnose dyslexia.  Formal diagnoses are obtained from a medical doctor.

Video: What is Dyslexia?

In accordance with the new legislation, Northwestern School Corporation has hired a full-time district Reading Specialist to assist in administering dyslexia screeners, providing necessary intervention to students, and monitoring progress.  Our Reading Specialist, Jessica Vandewalle, currently has offices at both Howard and Northwestern Elementary.  She may be contacted at  either building with questions or concerns, as well as through email at jessica.vandewalle@nwsc.k12.in.us.

During the 2019-2020 school year, all K-2 students were required to complete initial screening for characteristics of dyslexia.  However, due to the COVID-19 closure (March 16th through May 21st), these screenings were only able to be partially completed.  Partial results from 2019-2020 are listed below, and our screening will resume upon returning for the 2020-2021 school year.

What kind of tests are given for the dyslexia screening?

There are six skill subtests given for the initial dyslexia screening:

  1. Phonological/Phonemic Awareness - NWEA Skills Checklist Phonological Awareness & NWEA Skills Checklist Phoneme Identification
  2. Alphabet Knowledge - NWEA Skills Checklist Letter Identification
  3. Sound/Symbol Relationship - NWEA Skills Checklist Matching Letters to Sounds
  4. Decoding - NWEA Skills Checklist Consonant Blends and Digraphs
  5. Rapid Naming - Arkansas Rapid Naming Assessment (AR-RAN)
  6. Encoding - Words Their Way Primary Spelling Inventory; Scholastic Next Steps in Guided Reading

If a student demonstrates a need for further testing in order to determine specific skill deficits, parent permission will be required prior to administering what is know as a Level I screener.  This next level of screening includes:

  1. Phonological/Phonemic Awareness - MA Rooney Quick Phonics Screener Phonemic Awareness
  2. Alphabet Knowledge - MA Rooney Quick Phonics Screener Alphabet Subset
  3. Sound/Symbol Relationship - MA Rooney Quick Phonics Screener Auditory Drill, Writing Portion
  4. Decoding - MA Rooney Quick Phonics Screener Word List
  5. Rapid Naming - N/A, use results from universal screener
  6. Encoding - MA Rooney Quick Phonics Screener Spelling Pattern-Based Words

How many students were screened for characteristics of dyslexia during the 2019-2020 school year?

Howard Elementary - 81 students
Northwestern Elementary - 240 students

Students who were in Kindergarten during the 2019-2020 school year were scheduled to be screened in Spring 2020.  However, due to the COVID-19 closure, 0 students completed the initial screening at Howard Elementary, and 44 students completed part of the screening at Northwestern Elementary.

Zero students have completed the Level I screening this year, due to the COVID-19 closure.  During the 2020-2021 school year, screening will resume.

How many students were identified as At Risk/At Some Risk for characteristics of dyslexia during the 2019-2020 school year?

Students who scored below benchmark on three of the six initial screeners were identified as "At Some Risk" of demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia, while students who scored below benchmark in four or more of the six initial screeners were identified as "At Risk" of demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia.


School# of students At Some Risk# of students At Risk
Howard Elementary1913
Northwestern Elementary369

What intervention programs are used to assist students with characteristics of dyslexia?

Intervention programs used at Northwestern School Corporation to assist students with characteristics of dyslexia include:

  • Orton-Gillingham
  • Recipe for Reading
  • PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Strategies)
  • Headsprout

Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, 42 students received intervention at Howard Elementary, and 54 students received intervention at Northwestern Elementary.

For more information regarding Indiana's dyslexia legislation, you may visit the Department of Education website at https://www.doe.in.gov/literacy/dyslexia.