Screening for Dyslexia: E2SSB6162


  • Introduction: 

    As a parent or guardian of a student in grades K, 1, or 2, we want to inform you of some changes for this school year’s assessments. This year, the Mercer Island School District will begin recording data to align with the requirements of E2SSB 6162. This Bill was signed into law in 2018 and requires school districts to screen for areas of weakness associated with dyslexia. While the language and process has additional components to it, screening for areas of weakness in reading is not new to the District. We have been doing this for nearly a decade, after the Different Learners Review proposed updates to universal screening in reading in grades K-6 in 2013.

    The goal of E2SSB 6162 is to screen students in K-2, so that early evidence-based intervention and supports can be applied for any students flagged. Early intervention for students who struggle with reading is key to closing any gaps. The earlier the intervention, the better. All research supports the notion of early identification and intervention rather than waiting to see how the child will perform in the core skill areas of reading, spelling, and writing. While these interventions and supports may not be new, we are embarking on our first year, closest to that of what we knew before the pandemic. Teachers in grades K-2 have been engaging in professional learning about how the brain learns to read and what to do when a student experiences challenges. This intensive professional learning is ongoing and will continue for intermediate teachers as well, though the legal requirements (E2SSB 6162) do not stretch to 3rd-5th grades.

     

    About The Screener: 

    Screeners are designed to be predictors or “flags” that a student may currently or later have difficulty in reading development. It is important to emphasize that these tools do not diagnose a child with dyslexia or other reading disabilities. Rather, they will tell us that a child has areas of need and we intend to fill those needs with instruction and intervention. 

    The screening tool that we use is a very well-known and much used product, Aimsweb Plus. It is on the list of recommended screening tools that was reviewed by the Washington State Dyslexia Advisory Council. Between this assessment and our other assessment tools, we will be assessing students in these domains:

     

    • Phonological Awareness- This skill is the foundation of learning to read and begins developing at birth. Children begin to recognize the sounds of their home language from others in the first several months of life. This progresses and students become more attuned to the specific phonemes (smallest speech sounds).
    • Phonemic Awareness- This is a skill that falls under the broader umbrella of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to understand that spoken words are made up of individual sounds called phonemes. 
    • Rapid Naming Skills- This is the ability to quickly name aloud a series of familiar items (numbers, letters or objects) on a page. 
    • Letter Sound Knowledge- This skill is the awareness of the sound a letter makes. For example, “s” says /s/, “n” says /n/, etc. 

     

    About the Screening Process: 

    All students are screened using our benchmarking process three times a year in September/October, January/February, and May/June. The layer of dyslexia screening will align with those benchmarks, as that is when the data is gathered. 

    Kindergarten Students: When a student enters kindergarten, he/she/they may be in a very different place with reading development than their peers. As a result, the dyslexia screening will be completed in the second benchmarking window in January/February, to allow students to acquire the skills of being a student and develop some of the foundations for assessment to flag students appropriately. In any kindergarten classroom in the nation, if we were to use data in September, many more students would flag than actually need additional interventions, by nature of reading development. This is in alignment with the recommendations from the research and the Washington State Dyslexia Advisory Council. Here’s what to expect this year:

     

    1. Benchmark screening in September/October, used primarily for instructional purposes
    2. Ongoing instruction and appropriate interventions for all during and between benchmarking periods.
    3. Benchmark screening in January/February, used for instructional purposes and to determine areas of weakness associated with dyslexia.
    4. If your child has been flagged, you will receive additional information after that benchmarking period has concluded and data has been reviewed. If your child was not flagged, you will not receive additional information beyond regular teacher communications. 
    5. Ongoing instruction, progress monitoring and appropriate interventions for all during and between benchmarking periods.
    6. Benchmark screening in May/June, used for instructional purposes and to determine areas of weakness associated with dyslexia. This point will allow us to determine if a child continues to need any additional intervention and support. 

    First and Second Grade Students:

    Students in first or second grade will be flagged, if needed, in the first round of benchmarking in September/October. These students have already had a year of school and have developed further into the phases of reading development to allow us to more accurately identify students who need support. Many of these students may already be receiving additional supports, as this process is not entirely new to MISD. 

    1. Benchmark screening in September/October, used for instructional purposes and to determine areas of weakness associated with dyslexia.
    2. If your child has been flagged, you will receive additional information after that benchmarking period has concluded and data has been reviewed. If your child was not flagged, you will not receive additional information beyond regular teacher communications. 
    3. Ongoing instruction, progress monitoring and appropriate interventions for all during and between benchmarking periods.
    4. Benchmark screening in January/February, used for instructional purposes and to determine areas of weakness associated with dyslexia. This point will allow us to determine if a child continues to need any additional intervention and support. 
    5. Ongoing instruction, progress monitoring and appropriate interventions for all during and between benchmarking periods.
    6. Benchmark screening in May/June, used for instructional purposes and to determine areas of weakness associated with dyslexia. This point will allow us to determine if a child continues to need any additional intervention and support. 

     

    Any student who continues to have data demonstrating areas of need will continue to receive those supports in the next school year. 


    Timeline of Screening:

    1. Beginning of School to mid-October: Screening of all students (kindergarten not screened until Winter)
    2. Mid-October: Data review and additional assessments, as is appropriate.
    3. Late October/early November: Parents notified if their child is identified for intentional supports through E2SSB6162
      1. If you do not recieve an email from Learning Services by November, then you can assume your child was NOT identified in this process. This does not mean that your child isn't getting intervention or supports, it simply means that their needs are not specific to this process.  
    4. October- December: Classroom interventions and progress monitoring commences. Teachers communicate with families.
    5. January- Screening period two commences (first screening for kindergarten)
    6. Mid-February: Data review and additional assessments, as is appropriate, for any new students.
    7. Late February: Parents notified if their child is newly identified for intentional supports through E2SSB6162
    8. February-May: Classroom interventions and progress monitoring commences. Teachers communicate with families.
    9. This process repeats for spring in May and June

     

    About Intervention and Support: 

    Students receive support in tiers of need. This is often referred to as Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). 

    Within this, students are provided with instruction in one or multiple tiers, based on needs. Tier I instruction is instruction for all learners, and based in best practice and research. Most students will need only Tier I instruction, but some will need additional instruction, referred to as Tier II instruction. Tier II instruction is additional instruction that supports areas of need. In this case, that may look like small group intensive instruction within the classroom and may even have a partnership between a LAP, Title I or English Language Development (ELD) teacher and the classroom teacher for added support. Even still, for fewer students, there may be a need for more specialized supports and this is referred to as Tier III instruction. Tier III instruction assumes that students are still receiving the aforementioned instruction in their classroom, but also need something targeted and intensive that could be provided by an additional staff member such as a LAP, Title I, ELD, or special education teacher, depending on the student’s qualification for each of those services. 

     

    Support and intervention can look different in lots of ways. For example, MISD has services through special education, Learning Assistance Program (LAP), and Title I that all support reading. Your child may already be receiving these supports, and that will not change unless he/she/they exhibit a need for change. If your child is not already receiving these supports, some may be considered (particularly LAP and Title I supports). That said, the specifics of E2SSB 6162 state that intervention should be occurring in the general education classroom whenever possible. This is our expectation, in addition to any other services a child may qualify for. For example, if your child is receiving LAP or Title I reading support or has an IEP for reading, his/her/their classroom teacher will also be proving interventions in the classroom to support his/her/their reading development. In our classrooms, teachers have access to phonics instructional materials that assume a skill-level approach to instruction. If a student is struggling, he/she/they should and will receive the instruction that is specific to their needs within that program. Teachers also have access to supplemental resources such as Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum, Kid Lips, 50 Nifty Activities, and Equipped for Reading Success. These materials, while good for all, will help support students’ particular areas of need as well. For example, the Heggerty materials can be applied in a small group intervention group using multisensory engagement to support growth in phonemic awareness. Teachers leverage tools like Kid Lips to support sound recognition and associated spelling patterns in words using a sound wall. Teachers have access to curriculum, but also tools such as grapheme tile boards, magnetic wands and chips, felt pieces, visual cue cards, etc. These tools are all embedded within regular instruction and will be used with more intensity and frequency for students who need them. 

     

    Now What?

    The school district staff has been working on this since before the Bill was ever even passed into law, but teachers have been receiving intensive professional learning in this work, more specifically, since the passing of E2SSB 6162. Your child’s teacher is well-versed in instruction and the best first point of contact for any concern about your child’s reading or other learning development. Should your child be flagged, you will receive additional information from the District, and the teacher regarding what to expect and how your child is progressing. Should your child not progress, using our tools, we will consider the next steps and inform you of your options. That said, if you grow concerned about your child’s development, begin the conversation with your child’s teacher who is the expert in the trajectory of this development. 

     

    Where Can I Get Support?

    As a parent, your primary concern is and always will be your child. You are the first teacher of your child and the most connected to your child’s experiences and inner-workings. As such, we want to engage you, as a community member in learning opportunities and conversations. Look for opportunities to be communicated and here, on the website, to support you in your child’s early education. This year, we hope that these will include:

    • Book studies
    • Webinars
    • Asynchronous Videos
    • Virtual Office Hours

    While your child’s teacher is still the best first contact, we believe that a strong partnership between families and the school district is the best support for student learning. We look forward to partnering with you to support your child in his/her/their learning journey. Return to this site to learn more, as these structures are being built.