Dyslexia Professional Development Offering


Research from the National Institutes of Health shows that around 1 in 5 people struggle with reading despite having average to superior intelligence. That means that in every classroom in the United States there are between 2-4 children who need help with reading, writing and/or spelling. Many of these students have dyslexia or another language based learning difference.

Fortunately, legislators across the country are instating laws to help struggling students receive effective reading instruction. Now more than ever it is crucial for your teachers to be highly knowledgeable about dyslexia and receive the right dyslexia training, going well beyond letter reversals and spelling issues.

That’s where CLOI comes in. We have developed a professional learning opportunity to help education professionals with understanding dyslexia and better support students with dyslexia.

Watch the Introduction Video to learn more…

Overview of Dyslexia


Dyslexia is a common learning disability that interferes with the acquisition of effective reading skills. It causes some children to struggle with decoding, word recognition, and spelling.


  • Labored or inaccurate reading and/or spelling
  • Difficulty rhyming, associating sounds with alphabetic symbols, sequencing and ordering sounds
  • Delayed speech acquisition and/or difficulty with word retrieval
  • Challenges with following directions
  • Indicators vary from person to person


Dyslexia is diagnosed through an evaluation that determines a deficit in the ability to read and write while ruling out other possible causes, such as social, environmental, or cognitive factors.


Effective treatment will address the symptoms of the disability through teaching children how to read utilizing a direct, systematic, and sequential instructional approach coupled with multisensory structured language methods.

Not all struggling readers have dyslexia. Early diagnoses and dyslexia intervention are critical, and teachers and parents must work together. Schools can provide accommodations that may include extra time on tests or modified assignments for students diagnosed with dyslexia.

Classroom Red Flags

Red Flags to look for:


  • No two students with dyslexia are alike
  • Early red flags may include difficulty, weakness, and challenges with:
    • Oral language and phonological awareness
    • Slow processing speed
    • Letters and high frequency words
    • Spatial planning
    • Motor control

In depth learning of what, how, and why regarding red flags public education teachers should look for in the classroom to help struggling students will be covered in the PD.

Other topics covered


  • Instructional Strategies
  • Assessments
  • Brain and Dyslexia
  • Dyslexia Legislation

Dyslexia Professional Development

An Overview of Dyslexia

According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia affects both the individual and society. As a neurologically based and hereditary problem, it leads to problems in reading, writing, and overall organization. It can make it hard to read proficiently, affecting oral skills to the detriment of the student’s academic performance. Preliminary reports suggest that by the year 2030, 3.2 million teachers will be required to achieve universal primary education, and 5 million others should have achieved the qualifications for lower secondary education.

If there are significant interventions by teachers trained in dyslexia and its management across the curriculum, the students with dyslexia can avoid falling into depression and other negative paths. The trouble at present is that many of the students impacted by the condition are still undiagnosed. They face a high possibility of failure from early in their lives, considering their motivations to learn are intercepted by their inability to keep up with others in reading and oratory skills. They are often labeled as lazy or even disruptive by the very teachers who are supposed to assist them. If their students are not identified or do not receive effective dyslexia intervention, the effects of the condition may be significant and long-lasting, not only for the person but cumulatively for the society.

Long term effects of dyslexia on young adults include failure in academics, an increase in behavioral issues, and possible low self-esteem. Without efficient literacy skills to read everyday signs and fill in forms, social integration can prove to be a hassle for young adults who have gone through dyslexia unaided. Market research demonstrates amongst the high percentage of illiterate individuals in prison, a very high number of them are dyslexic. Even areas where public education is there for children of all backgrounds, disparate resources may leave gaps within the services that are available to students that have these particular needs.

The Commonwealth Learning Online Institute’s goal is to reduce student struggles and increase dyslexia awareness by providing resources and training for education professionals to recognize and tackle the issues revolving around dyslexia in the classroom. The courses and approaches provided by CLOI are geared towards addressing all aspects of reading challenges to increase student literacy and minimize the impact of reading disabilities.

Classroom Red Flags

Different aged children have different reading milestones, so red flags differ according to education level. The following difficulties may be linked to dyslexia if they are unexpected for the age, cognitive ability, or class level of the student. To verify the individual is dyslexic, they have to go through a comprehensive reading testing examiner.

Preschool Red flags

  • May have difficulties pronouncing words.
  • May be unable to recall the correct words.
  • May have a hard time rhyming.
  • May talk later than the other children in the class.
  • May not be able to follow multi-step directions or routines.
  • There may be problems learning the alphabet, days of the week, colors, shapes, or how to spell and write their names.
  • Often has trouble separating sounds in words and blending them to make words.

Kindergarten through fourth-grade red flags

  • The child might be slow to learn the connections between letters and sounds.
  • They might confuse some of the small words.
  • Students may begin making consistent reading and spelling errors, such as letter and word reversals. For example, they might say pit instead of tip.
  • The students might transpose some of the number sequences and confuse the arithmetic signs.
  • Students may be slow to learn new skills, as they may not be able to access the content through reading.
  • Students might have an awkward pencil grip where the thumb is hooked over the fingers.
  • The students with dyslexia may have a problem learning to tell time.

The Brain and Dyslexia

Developmental dyslexia and the manner it relates to brain function are very complicated topics that researchers have been studying for several decades. Prince Morga, a doctor from Sussex, described the case of a boy named Percy in his journal. At the age of 14, Percy was intelligent and not inferior to others in his age group. The difficulty was found when he tried to read proficiently. Studies concerning the differences in the brains of people of various ages also show differences between individuals with and without reading disabilities.

The brain is made up of white and gray matter. The gray matter is what can be seen when people look at the brain, and it is made up of nerve cells. White matter is found in the deeper parts of the brain and is composed of connective fibers covered in myelin, which facilitates communication between the nerves. Apparently, students that are diagnosed with dyslexia have a smaller amount of gray matter in the left parietotemporal area as compared to non-dyslexic people. Having a smaller amount of gray matter in that part of the brain could lead to issues when it comes to processing sound structures within a language. Several children with dyslexia also have less white matter in the same area compared to the average readers, and that is significant because the white matter seems to be connected to increased reading skills.

K-12 Instruction

Commonwealth Learning Online Institute supports the individualized curriculum from K12 that is based on decades of education research concerning the way minds work. With courses developed for each of the five essential reading skills, teachers of reading are able to learn how to implement best teaching practices for all areas of structured literacy. The curriculum is wrapped with rich and engaging content that turns the mind on. After all, the mind may wander when traditional literacy instruction classes do not intercept the problems experienced by the students.

Each course includes background content and how assessment helps guide instruction for students. Teachers are exposed to observational, informal, and formal assessments. Student evaluation is key to dyslexia awareness and understanding how to structure instruction to meet the needs of all learners. The objective of the evaluation is not to diagnose but to identify the barrier preventing success. The process of evaluation is going to look different for each individual. If preliminary teacher assessments point towards a possible reading disability the student is often referred to the formal evaluation team. The usual concerns are related to but not limited to the symptoms of dyslexia, ADHD, and other disabilities. An assessment can entail:

  • Academic achievement testing
  • Intelligence testing
  • Behavior, emotional, social assessment
  • Attention and executive functioning assessment
  • Memory assessment

The National Reading Panel emphasized the significance of providing students direct reading instruction that, as supported by scientific research, consists of key components including: phonics, vocabulary, fluency, phonemic awareness, and comprehension.

  1. Phonetic awareness: this relates to instruction on phonemic awareness that allows the students to detect, manipulate, and blend the sounds within spoken language. The phoneme is the smallest unit of language and is distinct from the other sounds. Explicit instructions on this awareness assists children in learning to read and spell.
  2. Systematic phonics instruction: teachers using these approaches instruct the students concerning the relationship between the phonemes and the printed letters. Students with the understanding may blend the sounds associated with letters into words, and they can separate them into competent sounds for writing and spelling.
  3. Language structure instruction: the study of language includes morphology, syntax, and practicalities.
  4. Linguistics instruction: Linguistics instruction may be directed toward fluency and proficiency with the pattern of language, meaning the sentences and words are the carriers of meaning. Reading can improve on the ability of the student when it comes to recognizing new words, reading with accuracy, and better comprehension of what was read.
  5. Process-oriented instruction: the procedures or strategies for decoding, encoding, recognition, and fluency have to be taught in an explicit manner so the students may learn the skills required for them to read proficiently.

Early Screening & Assessments

Dyslexia may be manifested as a phonological processing difficulty, and it can be identified in rapidly matching letters and sounds while sounding out the alphabetic texts. When screening for dyslexia, a reading assessment may measure the ability to decode as opposed to language comprehension or other secondary symptoms like reading ability and mental fatigue. These may be caused by a student having dyslexia though they can also result from other causes and are not definitive indicators of dyslexia.

It is possible to identify potential reading difficulties in the young even before the issues turn into reading failure, though. Screening tests like the Predictive Assessment of Reading, Texas Primary Reading Inventory, and Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills are some of the main assessments developed for these purposes that should be used with all children to locate the ones at risk when it comes to reading difficulty. Preventive dyslexia intervention needs to start immediately, even before an official diagnosis is determined. The manner in which the child responds to the supplementary instruction helps determine if special education services are required.

The universal screenings can be done at the beginning of curricula to assess the progress of the students and identify the students that require diagnostic assessment. Kentucky schools utilize different assessments as universal screening tools. They are administered and interpreted within short time frames so there can be timely decision making. Research illustrates that when the students are given intervention or additional instruction from an early point in time, they are more likely to catch up, and they might not need identification for certain learning disabilities.

If the child has poor decoding abilities, as evidenced by the dyslexia screening tools or the observations of the teacher, then it would be useful to assess for some of the following sub-processes:

  • Sound symbol recognition
  • Alphabet knowledge
  • Decoding skills
  • Rapid naming
  • Encoding skills

Dyslexia Legislation

Some states have dyslexia legislation to outline the manner educational institutions should assist students that have dyslexia and to administer early screening assessments.

  • The legislation surrounding dyslexia is not the same across the board.
  • Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) lists 13 conditions which would make the students eligible for special education. The IDEA is a national statute though states can implement it in different ways. The state regulations have to provide students with the rights and protections afforded by the federal legislation.
  • The purpose of dyslexia policies though may vary depending on the state, in general, they address issues including:
    • Early screening and the identification of students with dyslexia.
    • Procedures for screening and intervention
    • Training and professional development for the current teaching personnel, so they understand the best means of teaching children with dyslexia.
  • Education concerning dyslexia within teacher preparation programs allows for accommodations and early intervention for children identified as having dyslexia or being at risk.

In the time since IDEA was passed, there has been an increased interest in dyslexia and teacher training to help students with dyslexia. That increase has helped all manner of education professionals and teaching staff to address dyslexia to the advantage of the students.

Researchers have also learned much concerning the different ways children with dyslexia struggle with reading. The Commonwealth Learning Online Institute aims to support teaching personnel with abiding by current policies and knowing how to help struggling readers. States can utilize current research within their guidelines and use it as a means to outline the ways for educational institutions to assess, identify, and teach students impacted by dyslexia. When it comes to the states that do not address the needs of students with dyslexia effectively, parents have spearheaded the efforts geared to pass legislation to provide better instruction for students and teacher preparation.