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Supporting Students with Dyslexia

The Kirkwood School District is committed to working with parents to meet the educational needs of every student. A variety of special services are available in our schools to assist students whose educational needs require support beyond what is typically provided within the general classroom.

Your child’s classroom teacher is the first person you should contact for guidance on how we can best work together to support your child’s educational needs. Other key building staff include your child’s counselor, school nurse, principal and/or assistant principal.

House Bill No. 2379 was passed in 2017 to ensure all school districts conduct early screening to identify children with deficits in basic reading skills or dyslexia.

In Kirkwood, we have been screening all students for basic reading skills starting with kindergarten for many years. When indicated, we conduct an in-depth evaluation for an understanding of each student’s unique needs and provide interventions as appropriate.

We understand that dyslexia is an important issue for many parents, and we are always available to answer any questions you may have. Below are some of the most common questions we receive from families.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.

What does dyslexia look like?

Characteristics of dyslexia vary depending on students’ strengths and weaknesses. Key features of dyslexia may include but are not limited to:

  • Difficulty in phonological awareness skills (e.g., rhyming, segmenting, and blending sounds)
  • Difficulty learning the names and sounds of letters
  • Confusion of letters and words with similar appearance
  • Reversals of letters and words beyond the age of 7
  • Difficulty arranging letters in the correct order when spelling
  • Spelling the same word in different ways on the same page
  • Persistent deficits in reading despite adequate instruction

How is a Specific Learning Disability identified?

Special School District determines special education eligibility based on Missouri (DESE’s) criteria for special education standards. Eligibility determination is two-pronged: The evaluation must show 1) An inadequate response to intervention and/or significant discrepancy from cognitive abilities and 2) An adverse effect on educational performance which necessitates specialized instruction.

What is the difference between dyslexia and a Specific Learning Disability?

Both terms identify deficits in basic reading skills and reading fluency skills. Historically, the medical field has used the term dyslexia to refer to this learning profile, and DESE has used the term Specific Learning Disability. Individuals with a medical diagnosis of dyslexia may also meet DESE criteria for a Specific Learning Disability if their deficits have an adverse effect on educational achievement which necessitates specialized instruction. Not all students with dyslexia meet DESE criteria for a Specific Learning Disability.

How does Kirkwood School District identify and support students with reading concerns?

Kirkwood works proactively by universally screening all students to identify students at risk for reading difficulties. Students are screened at a minimum of three times per year, starting in Kindergarten. When students are identified as at risk, multiple sources of data are used to confirm the need for supplemental instruction. Once students receive supplemental instruction, frequent progress monitoring data are used to determine the effectiveness of instruction.

My student has a private evaluation that identifies dyslexia. What now?

Parents are encouraged to share the results of their evaluation with the school team (e.g., counselor, school psychologist). Next steps will be determined through careful consideration of multiple sources of data, with students’ best interests in mind.


International Dyslexia Association 

National Center for Learning Disabilities

Resources for Families

Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativit

Reading Rockets