Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that affects as many as 1 in 5 students. Dyslexia differs from other learning disabilities in that it occurs when there is a weakness for the reader at the phonological level. Characteristics of dyslexia may include:

  • Reading at significantly lower levels despite average or above-average intelligence;
  • Difficulty in fluency, spelling, and decoding; and
  • Various degrees of difficulty learning names of letters and their associated sounds.

Additionally, reading comprehension problems may be present. If these challenges lead students to read less often, vocabulary growth and background knowledge may be negatively impacted.

Students with dyslexia can learn to read! Staff receives required training to support students who have difficulty reading. Their training includes specific sessions on helping students who exhibit characteristics of dyslexia. Continuous professional development opportunities are available to all staff members to support particular reading and writing in language arts programs. These sessions build on the science of reading to ensure participants receive research-based strategies to help emergent readers and the individual needs of learners. Coursework for Advanced Orton Gillingham certification and Classroom Educator programs are also available.

PWCS employs reading specialists trained in identifying the appropriate interventions, accommodations, and teaching techniques for students with dyslexia or a related disorder. One of these reading specialists serves as the division's advisor on dyslexia and related disorders. This designee has an understanding of the definition of dyslexia and a working knowledge of:

  • Techniques to help a student on the continuum of skills with dyslexia;
  • Dyslexia characteristics that may manifest at different ages and grade levels;
  • The basic foundation of the keys to reading, including multisensory, explicit, systemic, and structured reading instruction; and
  • Appropriate interventions, accommodations, and assistive technology support for students with dyslexia.

The PWCS Dyslexia Co-Advisors are  Dr. Elizabeth Landry ([email protected]) and Julie Gagnon ([email protected]).

Want to learn more about individualized, specialized instruction for students with reading difficulties? Please get in touch with the PWCS Special Education Department:


Visit the Virginia Department of Education for more information on dyslexia.

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