October 19, 2016

Young Readers with Dyslexia Will be Identified Sooner and Receive Interventions and Accommodations Needed to Succeed in School

CONTACT: Dr. Sally Shaywitz,
Carmel Lepore,, (203) 785-4641

New Haven, Conn. —  A new, first-of-its-kind screening tool will enable schools nationwide and internationally to quickly and reliably screen all kindergarten and first grade students for dyslexia, allowing early support and intervention for the estimated 20 percent of the population who have dyslexia, including 80 percent of those with learning disabilities.

The Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen™, is an evidence-based assessment that helps teachers identify students in kindergarten and first grade who may have dyslexia. The low-cost assessment is delivered in less than five minutes per student, making it simple for schools to implement and use in evaluation of early readers.

Created by Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a global leader in dyslexia research and advocacy, the digital assessment emphasizes phonological, linguistic and academic performance. Shaywitz, the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development at the Yale University School of Medicine, is co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. As a physician-scientist, she conducts cutting-edge research that provides a 21st century scientific understanding of dyslexia.

“Right now in public schools, screening for and diagnosing dyslexia is practically non-existent, especially in low-income communities,” said Shaywitz. “If children with dyslexia are not identified, they will never receive evidence-based interventions and accommodations that will change their lives for the better.”

Dyslexia — an unexpected difficulty in reading in relation to an individual’s higher level of intelligence — is likely a significant reason for the persistent reading achievement gap in children from all backgrounds. Those with dyslexia have difficulty appreciating the individual sounds in spoken language, affecting their ability to isolate the sounds within a spoken word and then to attach the appropriate letter to the sound. Those with dyslexia struggle to read fluently, spell words correctly and to learn a second language. Children with undiagnosed dyslexia are more likely to drop out of school and as adults have higher rates of unemployment, anxiety and depression. Some studies estimate that nearly 50 percent of the prison population is dyslexic.

To identify and address dyslexia early on, the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity partnered with Pearson to publish the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen™ and make it available to all young children across the country and internationally.

The Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen™ is based on teachers’ keen observations, asking and ranking the answers to a short series of questions.  Shaywitz conducted a longitudinal study to determine which questions were most likely to predict dyslexia in children several years later.

“These questions will allow us to gain valuable insight from the individual who knows the child’s academic and reading functioning best – his or her classroom teacher,” said Shaywitz.

She noted that recent published scientific data indicates that the achievement gap between dyslexic and typical readers is evident as early as first grade and that early identification of children at risk is critical to closing that gap.  “Accommodations, such as extra time for school work, will help students demonstrate their true abilities and recognize that their reading struggles do not mean they are less capable or intelligent than their peers,” said Shaywitz.

Shaywitz is the author of more than 250 scientific articles and chapters. Her award-winning book, Overcoming Dyslexia, details fundamental scientific findings on dyslexia and how to translate this scientific knowledge into policy and clinical practice.


About the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (YCDC) is the preeminent source of cutting-edge research, informed advocacy and trustworthy resources to help those with dyslexia reach their full potential. The Center’s tools and resources are used widely by parents, educators and those with dyslexia to advocate for greater recognition and support for dyslexic children and adults. YCDC builds awareness in all communities and mobilizes grassroots efforts to close the reading achievement gap for low-income students of color through policies that help dyslexic children succeed. The Center also showcases the remarkable success stories of adults with dyslexia, including writers, scientists, celebrities and government and business leaders. For more information visit us at

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