Over 2,600 participants from all 50 states in the U.S and 44 countries engaged with the 2021annual Robert J. Schwartz Memorial Lecture presented by Hugh Catts, PhD.  Here are five key takeaways you need to know about screening and identification of dyslexia:

1. Early Screening is fundamental for the prevention of reading failure. Effective early screening should be:

  • Universal (all students)
  • Used to determine the probability of risk of having or developing a reading disability
  • Administered to students in Pre-K to 1st grade after and in combination with high-quality reading instruction
  • Different from diagnosis and classification

For further learning:
Dr. Catts and Tiffany Hogan, PhD discuss the relationship between early screening and prevention of dyslexia: Dyslexia: An ounce of prevention is better than a pound diagnosis and treatment

2. Current research frameworks provide insights to a comprehensive model for understanding dyslexia.

  • Dr. Catts referenced neurological, genetic, behavioral, and environmental risk and protective factors that influence the probability of a child developing dyslexia.

For further learning:
Dr. Catts and Yaacov Petscher, PhD explain A Risk and Protection Model of Dyslexia

3. Schools should be educated consumers on screening measurements and tools:

  • Effective screening should occur at multiple times throughout the year to measure a child’s risk and progress.

For further learning:
Dr. Catts identified the National Center on Intensive Intervention’s free Academic Screening Tools Chart which provides information about the evidence supporting screening measures.

4. Families and educators should be mindful of primary factors of reading difficulties and disabilities as well as risks related to:

  • Family history
  • Early language development
  • Home language
  • Literacy experience (home and school)
  • Childhood characteristics
  • Trauma and childhood stress

For further learning:
Listen to Dr. Catts speak more about risk and protective factors of dyslexia on episode 18 of the READ Podcast Early Identification and Intervention of Reading Disabilities

5. Screening should always be supported by high-quality reading instruction and intervention. Key considerations include:

  • Systemic support across the school
  • Implementation of an explicit, systematic, structured instructional approach to teaching phonics and reading
  • Targeted academic intervention with increased intensity and dosage for struggling readers
  • Additional supports and services to address child needs
  • Teacher training

For further learning:
Read Danielle Scorrano’s commentary on the risk and protection model as it applies to educational settings in the Spring 2021 issue of The Beacon: Yes, And…A Comprehensive Model for Understanding Reading Disabilities


Click to view lecture recording.