What is a dyslexia screener assessment?

A dyslexia screener by definition conditionally identifies students who may have reading difficulties or dyslexia. It is important to understand how it does this. Essentially, the screener looks at early reading skills that students are taught in grades K to 2. If student performance indicates that they may struggle with reaching grade-level expectations in reading, then they are flagged as at-risk. Before they receive a dyslexia diagnosis, a qualified specialist must individually diagnose them.  In essence, dyslexia screeners, universal literacy screeners, and early literacy screeners all accomplish the same goals. We see many states adopt dyslexia screeners, but the actual titles could be swapped synonymously with these other terms.

In addition, if you look at the specifications for these assessments, they tend to follow similar requirements. These are the most common areas that are screened:

    • Letter identification
    • Early sight words
    • Beginning sounds
    • Phonemic awareness
    • Rapid naming

These areas require that scores be reviewed by educators to prevent false positive results; in other words, scores can be misleading. For example, if a student is an English language learner, the score may be the result of learning a new language, rather than potential dyslexia.  If a student is in Kindergarten and their home literacy environment is not robust, they may be entering school already behind, and because the screener is often required in the first month of Kindergarten, they may be misscreened. These situations are rife for false positive results that cause students to be flagged mistakenly as possibly dyslexic.

Is there an automated dyslexia screener assessment that doesn’t require early literacy skills?

The short answer is no, not yet. Dyslexia manifests itself as students are starting to learn to read. Some students may struggle with the way their brains interpret letters and shapes. For example, it is very common for students who are starting to learn to read to confuse lowercase b and d. However, for some dyslexic students, the difficulty persists beyond what is normally experienced. This is just a single example and not representative of all students with dyslexia.

The University of California Dyslexia Center is working on a more comprehensive dyslexia screening process. They are doing extensive research into how the brains of students with dyslexia work and whether there is a way to identify dyslexia before students begin to learn to read. This would represent an amazing accomplishment, since as we know with other disabilities, early identification is very important because it is often correlated with better outcomes.

Let’s Go Learn has a fully online dyslexia screener assessment in English and Spanish. It covers the five areas listed above and is fully automatic. Unlike many other digital screeners, ours does not require a teacher to administer it other than to make sure students are able to get online and use their devices. Our assessment also includes a mouse or device practice before the actual screener begins. This confirms that the student can understand basic instructions, which of course might result in a possible negative bias for young test-takers, such as those in Kindergarten.

Definition:  Screener – noun [skreen-er]:  In educational testing, a screener is a short test, usually 10-15 minutes long, that conditionally identifies a particular educational objective. Screeners are meant to be short in duration in order to save time with the assumption that a secondary test will be given for further clarification of the educational objective or to arrive at a diagnosis.

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Let’s Go Learn allows you to measure and understand student math and reading skills with research-based, adaptive assessments. Then you can automatically build personalized learning paths from the data, creating the perfect supplementary curriculum.
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