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Characteristics of Students Identified with Dyslexia Within the Context of State Legislation

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This study explores factors that might predict the way dyslexia is identified by schools.

The authors looked at data on 7,947 second-grade students in 126 schools from one U.S. state, including:

  • A universal screening measure of literacy skills commonly associated with dyslexia (i.e., reading and spelling).
  • School-assigned dyslexia classification.
  • Demographic characteristics.

Findings:

  • Behavioral characteristics of dyslexia from universal screening (oral reading fluency, spelling, reading comprehension and vocabulary) were associated with school-assigned dyslexia classification.
  • Dyslexia classification was less likely for minority students and individuals in schools with a higher percentage of minority students.
  • Students who showed behavioral characteristics of dyslexia and attended schools with a higher proportion of other students with similar poor literacy skills were less likely to receive a school-assigned dyslexia classification.

The findings suggest systematic demographic differences in whether a student is identified with dyslexia by schools even when using universal screening.

Suggested Citation

National Center on Improving Literacy (2023). Characteristics of Students Identified with Dyslexia Within the Context of State Legislation. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education Programs, National Center on Improving Literacy. Retrieved from http://improvingliteracy.org.

References

Odegard, T.N., Farris, E.A., Middleton, A.E., Oslund, E., & Rimrodt-Frierson, S. (2020). Characteristics of students identified with dyslexia within the context of state legislation. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 53(5), 366-379. DOI: 10.1177/0022219420914551