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Early Literacy & Dyslexia

About Early Literacy & Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that is neurological in origin and that is characterized by unexpected difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities that are not consistent with the person's intelligence, motivation, and sensory capabilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological components of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. (E2SSB 6162)

This definition of dyslexia is adopted by the 65th WA State Legislature, 2018 Regular Session.

Dyslexia is: (from the OSPI Implementation Guide: Early Screening of Dyslexia)

  • A difference that makes processing speech sounds difficult, specifically the ability to hear, substitute, and change individual sounds in words.
  • Characterized by challenges with reading and spelling, particularly with the connections between letters and sounds.
  • Likely to lead to problems learning and remembering vocabulary, understanding what is read, getting thoughts on paper.
  • Not related to overall intelligence.
  • Not a visual problem or caused by a lack of motivation, interest, or exposure to rich literature, or ineffective classroom instruction.

Related Information:

Click here for information on Student Learning Plans that may result from Early Literacy Screening

Click here for more about our Literacy Screener


In 2018 the Washington State Legislature passed E2SSB 6162 establishing a state definition of dyslexia and directing schools to develop and implement a plan for addressing the needs of students with dyslexia or reading challenges consistent with dyslexia.

Parallel to the legislative work Issaquah Schools has been engaged in three related bodies of work:

  1. A study of our academic interventions. Dating back to 2016-17.
  2. The development of a plan for implementing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). Dating back to 2015, starting with MTSS for positive behavior supports.
  3. Training and planning for:
    1. Culturally Responsive Practices
    2. Trauma Informed Practices
    3. Inclusive Practices

This page provides a reference, resources for teachers and families and updates on our planning and alignment of ongoing work to meet the needs of students with dyslexia or reading difficulties consistent with dyslexia.

Information About Literacy Screening and Dyslexia

ISD conducts a Literacy Screener for all K-2 Students, a Literacy Screener is a short assessment given to all students to help us learn whether a student might have a reading difficulty associated with dyslexia, prompting additional assessment.  To learn more about our literacy screener please click here.  For information from the state of Washington (OSPI) on literacy screening please see the following Educational Information for Parents and Families, available in multiple language here

Additional information is available through OSPI in a Dyslexia Fact Sheet and their dyslexia web page.

Talking about early literacy difficulties and dyslexia

It is important for educators and families to be able to talk about early literacy difficulties.  Identifying learning needs and working together to support and intervene early is the best way to prevent problems from becoming more severe over time. OSPI has provided two guides to help families and teachers have these discussions during conferences or other meetings.

The Family and Caregiver Discussion Guide is available here, and also available in multiple languages here.

The Educator Discussion Guide is available here.

2021-22 New Instructional Supports

During the 2020-21 school year the Reading Foundational Skills adoption team led the screening, piloting and selection of new instructional supports designed to address the requirement of E2SSB 6162 and beyond.  Below is a summary of those instructional Supports.


For early identification of learning difficulties associated with dyslexia ISD will use screening assessments and academic diagnostic / placement assessments three times per year.

Screening Assessments (Screeners)
Purpose: to quickly identify students that MAY have a significant difficulty in the area being assessed.

  • i-Ready Phonological Awareness subtest
  • i-Ready Phonics subtest
  • i-Ready Rapid Automatized Naming Assessment 

i-Ready is a state approved assessment in compliance with E2SSB 6162.

Academic Diagnostics / Placement Assessments
Purpose: to determine the specific skills in which a student needs more instruction or intervention.  An academic diagnostic does not diagnose or determine if a student has a disability.

  • Benchmark skill inventory
  • Heggerty phonological awareness assessment
  • Really Great Reading placement assessment


Instructional Materials

The following curricula have been selected to address learning difficulties associated with dyslexia.

Benchmark Phonics Workshop.   All kindergarten students will receive explicit phonics instruction, moving students in a systematic progression of skills with spiral review.  Benchmark is designed to give students a strong, universal foundation and to differentiate for a wide range of learners.

HeggertyProviding a structured and systematic approach, Heggerty will be used to provide universal instruction to all kindergarten and first grade students and further support for first through fifth grade students who have not demonstrated phonological awareness.

Really Great Reading.  When a student is demonstrates a significant or persistent difficulty with phonics skills, Really Great Reading provides an evidence-based, multi-sensory phonics intervention curriculum.

During the 2021-22 School Year these assessments and instructional materials will be implemented and staff will be trained.



ISD is anchoring its approach to serving the needs of students with dyslexia in the following bodies of work:

Additional Resources

Additional Resources for Learning about Dyslexia

OSPI Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Working with the state's 295 public school districts and 6 state-tribal education compact schools, OSPI allocates funding and provides tools, resources, and technical assistance so every student in Washington is provided a high-quality public education.
Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity aspires to increase awareness of dyslexia and its true nature, specifically to illuminate the creative and intellectual strengths of those with dyslexia, to disseminate the latest scientific research and practical resources, and to transform the treatment of all dyslexic children and adults.
International Dyslexia Association The IDA aims to create a future for all individual who struggle with dyslexia and other related reading differences so that they may have richer, more robust lives and access to the tools and resources they need.
LD Online LD OnLine seeks to help children and adults reach their full potential by providing accurate and up-to-date information and advice about learning disabilities and ADHD.
Learning Disabilities Association of America
LDS’s mission is to create opportunities for success for all individuals affected by learning disabilities through support, education and advocacy.