Andover Public Schools, Andover, Massachusetts
Challenge: Students struggling with dyslexia were not being identified early enough in the reading education—until fourth grade in some cases—which created a need for significant remediation.
Initiative: The district addresses language-based reading difficulties with a multipronged approach that includes assessment, professional development, instruction, technology integration, community outreach and policy engagement. Cutting-edge techniques have also been implemented, including Targeted Cognitive Intervention, co-teaching and microcredentialing of instructional assistants in literacy strategies. In addition, the district partners with education and health experts, including Tufts University, Harvard Medical, Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, Boston Children’s Hospital and schools that specialize in educating students with dyslexia.
Impact: “We are blurring the lines between regular and special education,” says Sara Stetson, director of student services. At the elementary level, literacy proficiency was increased by 4 percent overall in the first year, and students in the program for severe dyslexia continue to show significant improvements on multiple assessment benchmarks.
Advice: Any systemic approach to dyslexia should include early screening, data teams that connect students with interventions, and ongoing staff development.