Departments

Special Education

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints

'Invisible Dyslexics'

Needy minority students are less likely to be identified as having the reading disability dyslexia than other students, a recent study concludes.

Such students, absent critical reading intervention in their early years because of a missed diagnosis, may struggle their whole lives to read, the report says.

Because those students often fall below educators' radar, the report, sponsored by the Abell Foundation in Baltimore, calls them "invisible dyslexics." About 20 percent of students in large urban districts are likely to fit that category, says the report written by education consultant and former Baltimore school board member Kalman R. Hettleman.

With the right screening and early diagnosis, Mr. Hettleman estimates, the proportion would drop to 6 percent.

"Children who fall behind early rarely catch up," he writes. "This invisible injustice can be overcome by concerted federal, state, and local action."

Mr. Hettleman, in addition to doing a case study on the 95,000-student Baltimore city schools, analyzed research on early reading intervention. The problem, he concludes, is a nationwide crisis with the same causes. He calls for changes in how dyslexia is defined and diagnosed.

Under special education laws, children with reading difficulties are not entitled to special instruction unless there is a large discrepancy between their intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, and reading achievement. That discrepancy requirement has a "perverse impact," the report says. High-IQ children with reading difficulties have bigger "discrepancies" than children with low IQs, and therefore receive early support.

The IQ test has long been accused of discriminating against poor and minority children who come from homes with less exposure to language and literature, the report notes.

Mr. Hettleman says that teachers' lower expectations of minority students from low-income families sometimes exacerbate the problem.

The report recommends that districts screen for reading difficulties by kindergarten. Typically, it says, such children aren't identified until age 9, after critical years are lost.

And the federal government should change the wording of the discrepancy requirement that impedes early diagnosis and intervention, the report argues.

—Lisa Fine Goldstein

Vol. 22, Issue 29, Page 6

Published in Print: April 2, 2003, as Special Education

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented

Sponsor Insights

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

To Address Chronic Absenteeism, Dig into the Data

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Keep Your Schools Safe and Responsive to Real Challenges

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

3 Unique Learner Profiles for Emerging Bilinguals

Effective Questioning Practices to Spur Thinking

Empower Reading Teachers with Proven Literacy PD

Student Engagement Lessons from 3 Successful Districts

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >