From the District to the Reading Teacher: A Roadmap for Using Screeners to Identify Students with Dyslexia

June 2022 Workshop Graphic

Many states require schools to screen students for characteristics of dyslexia. Identifying students is necessary for them to receive timely and targeted intervention. Join us to learn how to refine your existing screening process with the goal of building skill and confidence in identifying students at risk of or with characteristics of dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

We will share research-informed procedures and organizational tools to support screening processes at the school and district levels. Preview our screening guide.

This live webinar will include demonstrations using the screening guide as well as moderated Q&A time throughout the event. Registrants who attend the full session will receive a certificate of attendance for 5 hours of professional learning. This event has been approvied for 5 continuing education hours by ALTA and CERI.

Individual registration for this event is $199. Current MTSU students, faculty, and staff may attend this event free of charge. These individuals must pre-register by using the "Register by Purchase Order" option below. Other individuals may register either by purchase order or online payment. Scroll down to choose the registration option that fits best for you!

Participants will:

  • Gain insight into the purpose of screening
  • Reflect on current screening practices within the district, school, and classroom
  • Build skill and confidence with identification of K-8 students at risk of or with characteristics of dyslexia
  • Learn how to use screening data to differentiate student reading profiles

Screening decisions are typically made by groups of educators working together. Therefore, we encourage you to register with others from your school to facilitate conversations about your current and future screening practices.


Workshop Schedule
June 14, 2022
8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. CDT


Event Access Opens
8:20 - 8:30
Welcoming Remarks
8:30 - 9:15
Challenges to Implementing Dyslexia-specific Screening as Stipulated within State Laws
Tim Odegard Ph.D.

Dyslexia legislation has swept the nation resulting in the passage of dyslexia-specific legislation in all but a handful of states. These laws contain various components, and a common aspect of these laws is dyslexia-specific screening. The language specifying dyslexia-specific screening in these laws seems clear on the surface. However, implementing dyslexia-specific screening in schools has not been as straightforward as hoped. Challenges have surfaced, hindering the efforts to enact these aspects of state law. In part, these challenges arose from stipulations in the laws that do not neatly dovetail with what has been learned about reading development and dyslexia. They also have arisen due to confusion resulting from these mandates running alongside existing procedures and practices for universal screening. And finally, schools have struggled to implement directives for dyslexia-specific screening due to limitations in the nature and types of screening instruments currently available for adoption and use in schools.

This presentation will review stipulations found in dyslexia legislation enacted across the nation related to dyslexia-specific screening. It will also highlight critical challenges that emerge when striving to implement dyslexia-specific screening. It will conclude with some concrete considerations that can guide how educators can overcome obstacles to implementing dyslexia-specific screening in schools.

9:15 - 10:15
Universal Screening: The GPS for Student Reading Data
Emily Farris, Ph.D.

Dyslexia identification begins with the universal screening process. Universal screeners assess if a student is on track to arrive at their destination of meeting grade level expectations. They also alert educators to students who may need alternate routes getting there. In addition to answering questions about specific students, screening data can also provide information about a school as a whole. Session topics include:

  • an overview of the universal screening process and its purpose
  • how screeners can provide clues about the effectiveness of Tier 1 instruction
  • why certain skills are measured at different grade levels
10:15 - 10:25
10:25 - 11:00
Organizing Your District Screening Tools
Melinda Hirschmann, Ed.D., CALT

How can you organize the literacy screeners already used in your district to identify risk and characteristics of dyslexia? Our District Literacy Screeners Inventory Form supports a research-informed approach for using data to identify students at risk for and with characteristics of dyslexia. Compiling your resources at the district level allows for consistent implementation and student analysis. This form supports compliance with state-mandated literacy screening laws. We will demonstrate how to use this form to organize your existing screenings tools and how to add supplemental measures to fill in any screening component gaps.

11:00 - 11:30
Students at the Intersection: Screening for Dyslexia within the MTSS/RTI Framework
Erin Alexander, Ed.S., NCSP, CALT

Universal screening data offer a chance to reset the navigation plan for students as needed. Screening a student for characteristics of dyslexia should occur within your existing MTSS/RTI framework. Session topics include:

  • an overview of dyslexia characteristics
  • examining existing data to determine if a student should be considered for dyslexia screening
  • how dyslexia screening fits within an MTSS/RTI framework using Tennessee's "Say Dyslexia" law as an example
11:30 - 12:00
Creating Your Student-Level Screener
Melinda Hirschmann, Ed.D., CALT

We’ll demonstrate how to transfer the screeners organized on the District Literacy Screeners Inventory Form to the creation of student screening data forms. We’ll model how to create a kindergarten-specific screener to identify early emergent readers at risk for dyslexia as well as a K-8 screener to identify students with characteristics of dyslexia.

12:00 - 12:20
12:20 - 12:55
Choosing the Correct Route: Determining when a Student has Characteristics of Dyslexia
Erin Alexander, Ed.S., NCSP, CALT

Once data have been collected, school teams are responsible for using that information to determine if a student has characteristics of dyslexia. The goal of this session is to boost your confidence in making those decisions so that all struggling students receive the instruction they need to become proficient readers. Session topics include:

  • options for measuring skills required by state dyslexia laws, using Tennessee as an example
  • determining which skills are weaknesses for particular students
  • examining case studies to decide if a student displays characteristics of dyslexia
12:55 - 1:00
1:00 - 1:45
Case Studies: Using the Screening Tools to Identify Risk and Characteristics of Dyslexia
Melinda Hirschmann, Ed.D., CALT

There is no single test or data point that can be used to determine risk for or characteristics of dyslexia. An informed analysis of each student’s data form, emphasizing the components associated with the risk or characteristics of dyslexia, can be used to support identification and reveal a pattern of strengths and weaknesses with literacy skills. We’ll examine case studies for identification of dyslexia as well as identification of instructional targets to support each student’s reading development.

1:45 - 2:00
Reflection and Q&A


Join us to learn how to refine your existing screening process with the goal of building skill and confidence in identifying students with characteristics of dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

Registration for this event is closed. Individuals who completed the registration will receive an email with further instructions.


Workshop Presenters

Erin Alexander
  Emily Farris, Ph.D. Assistant Director for Educational Services and Research Initiatives
Erin Alexander, Ed.S., NCSP, CALT     Emily Farris, Ph.D.
Melinda Hirschmann, Ed.D., CALT
  Tim Odegard, Ph.D.
Melinda Hirschmann, Ed.D., CALT   Timothy Odegard, Ph.D.






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