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Reading & Literacy

What Do Students With Dyslexia Need From Schools? Two Experts Weigh In

By Elizabeth Heubeck — May 09, 2023 1 min read
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As many as 15 to 20 percent of students show some symptoms of dyslexia, such as inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing, or mixing up similar words, according to the International Dyslexia Association.

But the number of symptoms and the degree of their severity vary widely among affected students. So too does the knowledge, training, and resources that schools have at their disposal to address it. But awareness around dyslexia is increasing among educators, who are looking for deeper understanding about this complicated neurological-based disorder.

In a webinar earlier this month, Education Week featured two seasoned educators who have dedicated their careers to creating pathways to literacy for students with dyslexia. Maria Paluselli is chief executive officer of Provident Charter School in Pittsburgh, which serves students in grades 2 through 8 with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences. Doug Rich is a math and reading interventionist at McKinley Elementary School in San Francisco, and the parent of two sons with dyslexia. (View 20 minutes of the webinar in the video embedded at the top of this page.)

In a fascinating conversation with these experts, Paluselli and Rich shared insights they’ve gleaned through their decades of work in this field—from the frustrations experienced by students with dyslexia and their families when the disorder goes undiagnosed, to the demanding and intensive interventions that enable students with dyslexia to crack the reading code.

During the webinar, Rich shared his own educational journey toward understanding dyslexia as both a parent and a reading interventionist in an elementary school. “I kept discovering layers. This is not a three-hour or a day-long or even a week-long training,” he said. “There is so much to learn about our writing system.”

The complexity of dyslexia underscores why, as Paluselli aptly observed, “these really bright people don’t understand why school is so dang hard for them.”

Hear from these two educators as they discuss how to recognize early warning signs of dyslexia; the key components of effective intervention; what schools designed for students with the disorder include, and what they purposefully omit; and more.


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