Dyslexia - Supporting Reading for All Students

  • In West Linn-Wilsonville, we are committed to every student learning to be a strong reader. Reading is a fundamental component for lifelong learning, and it is also a joyful way to connect with and understand the world. Many students in WLWV develop successful reading skills as a result of the balanced literacy curriculum in our primary schools. However, some students experience obstacles to successful reading skills. One form of reading difficulty that some students experience is dyslexia.

    Dyslexia is a neuro-biologically based difficulty in reading that impacts a student’s spelling and decoding abilities, resulting in non-fluent reading. Students with dyslexia tend to have a “sea of strengths,” including reasoning, comprehension, problem solving, vocabulary and critical thinking. The International Dyslexia Association says that up to 20% of students may experience dyslexia.

    As with other kinds of learning differences like ADHD and anxiety, not all students who experience dyslexia will need to receive special education services. Instruction for reading in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District is delivered through Circles of Support:

    • All primary school students receive instruction in a balanced literacy approach, including the readers workshop using Lucy Calkins Units of Study. Our primary schools are also committed to Word Study – the teaching of vocabulary and decoding skills. Embedded throughout we emphasize inspiring a love of reading and developing a growth mindset for all readers.
    •  Students with any kind of reading difficulty will receive additional opportunities to practice and receive feedback and responsive instruction in reading strategies, in the general education setting. Not all students who experience reading difficulties have dyslexia. For example, some students are able to decode well, but they struggle with comprehending, analyzing and processing what they read.
    • Students with dyslexia experience difficulties with accurate, fluent word recognition and decoding. They need explicit, systematic, multisensory instruction focused on the structures of language. This instruction is delivered by general education teachers and instructional assistants. The Word Study component of our balanced literacy program includes intervention strategies for students who are experiencing difficulties with fluency and decoding. These students will also have access to universal tools to ensure high cognitive engagement.
    • Some students with dyslexia will qualify for a 504 plan because their dyslexia substantially limits their ability to access the general education content. These students will receive individualized accommodations to support that access.
    • A few students with dyslexia will qualify for special education in the category of Specific Learning Disability in reading (SLD). These students need specially designed instruction and an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) focused on intensive, explicit instruction.


    One tool the district is making available for students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities is Learning Ally. This is an online collection of audiobooks that allows a student to engage with a text by listening. Learning Ally is for students with a documented disability in reading (not necessarily only students served with a 504 or IEP). If you have a student who you suspect would qualify for Learning Ally, contact your classroom teacher, counselor, instructional coordinator, teacher librarian or learning specialist.


    Circles of Support for Students with Reading Challenges

     Circles of Support for Dyslexia

    Click Here for a Larger Version of this Circles of Support Graphic


    Oregon Laws about Dyslexia

    The State of Oregon adopted Senate Bill 612 in 2015 and Senate Bill 1003 in 2017, which provide certain requirements for districts in supporting students who experience reading difficulties, including dyslexia. One of the requirements of these laws is that each K-5 school has at least one staff member who is trained in recognizing and addressing dyslexia.

    In June 2018, WLWV hosted a 3-day workshop taught by reading experts from the University of Oregon. Each WLWV primary school had 4-5 people attend the training, and each middle school had 2-4 people attend. A group of about 20 educators who had attended the 3-day workshop met again in August 2018 to reflect on our learning, design future professional development, and consider possible tools to be used for screening Kindergarten and 1st grade students for reading difficulties.

    The district will select a screener from the ODE-approved list, and begin implementing it during the 2018-19 school year.

    The screener is only for Kindergarten and 1st grade students. There is no universal screener for older students (including middle school and high school). Teachers of older students regularly gather data about students' reading ability and provide feedback and specific instruction.

    If a student or parent has a concern about a student's reading, they should contact the teacher. The teacher will gather data and intensify instruction as necessary. In addition, the teacher may refer the student to the Child Study Team, which will lead to more systematic interventions and data collection. If the student does not make meaningful growth during the Child Study process, the Child Study Team may refer the student for an evaluation for a 504 plan or IEP.


    Additional Information & Resources

    Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Dyslexia Pages

    International Dyslexia Association