Literacy Screener

If you received a letter or communication about your child's reading level,. notice that your child will be receiving additional support in reading, or information about dyslexia - please don't panic.  Our school district is following a new early literacy law designed to help students early, before reading difficulties grow into bigger problems.  Please read below to learn more and address frequently asked questions.

Understanding the Early Literacy Screening Process: Parents and Families

Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, Washington State requires each school district to screen, or assess, students in Grades K-2 for weaknesses in literacy skill development that may be associated with dyslexia.  ISD is assessing all students grades K-5.

Click here for information on Literacy Screening and Dyslexia from OSPI

Click here for the OSPI Screening and Dyslexia Resources page with information for educator and for families, in multiple languages.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Screener?

An academic screener is:

  • A short, informal test that is given to all students to determine whether further testing is needed
  • Not a formal evaluation for learning difficulties or an evaluation for a learning disability

Why is my Child being Screened?

  • Early intervention to address reading difficulties is the best way to prevent early problems from becoming more severe over time.
  • With early identification and early intervention, students at risk for reading difficulties, including dyslexia, can succeed in school and graduate ready for college, career, and civic life.

What does it mean to have "reading difficulties that may be associated with dyslexia"?

  • The screener assesses student ability to understand and distinguish sounds that make up a word (called Phonological Awareness) and the ability to connect the sounds that make up words with the letters in the word (called Phonics).  Difficulties with these skills are areas associated with dyslexia.

Does difficulty in these areas mean my child has dyslexia?

  • Not necessarily.  There are many reasons a student may have difficulty with these skills.  Any of the following could be reasons:
    • During remote learning it might have been difficult to fully develop these skills in class.
    • Not enough time or attention was given to development of these areas.
    • When learning more than one language, it is possible that what looks like a difficulty on a test is actually a result of the assessment being in English only.  Using the WIDA assessment for multi-lingual learners helps ensure we know more about the student's abilities.
    • Other factors may interfere with students' ability to focus on developing these skills.  (During times of trauma, attendance in class, attention challenges, etc.)
    • And, yes, dyslexia may be a cause, especially if the student has received and attended to specific instruction in these areas and continues to struggle.

Does the screener diagnose dyslexia?

  • None of the ISD assessments diagnose dyslexia.  Our assessments are designed to identify what students know, and what they don't know in order to design instruction to meet student needs.

What kind of help will my student get?

  • If a student has an identified weakness in phonics or phonological awareness, they will be provided instruction in these areas using a more explicit curriculum that includes Benchmark Phonics for Kindergarten, Really Great Reading in 1st - 5th grades and may also include a program called Heggerty.  This program may be delivered by our interventionist (Title / LAP teacher) or a classroom teacher.

What assessments are ISD using as a Literacy Screener?

For the purposes of screening students for weaknesses in literacy skill development that many be associated with dyslexia, ISD is using the i-Ready Dyslexia Screener.  i-Ready provides the following screening tools:

  1. Phonological Awareness.  The i-Ready computer adaptive assessment integrates a phonological awareness assessment.  Phonological awareness is the knowledge of speech sounds, such as rhyme, alliteration (words that start with the same sound), the number of words in a sentence, and syllables within words.
  2. Phonics.  The i-Ready computer adaptive assessment integrates a phonics skill assessment.  Phonics skills are the ability to connect the sounds students hear in spoken words to the letters they see in written words. For example, a student who can connect sounds to letters knows to read “th” in then as a single sound, rather than the sound of t and the sound of h. Students have to learn many different connections between sounds and spelling patterns.
  3. Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN). The i-Ready system provides off-line, 1:1 administered RAN assessments.  A RAN is a task that involves quickly and accurately naming aloud a series of familiar items. This includes letters, numbers, colors, and objects found in a classroom.

ISD teachers will also use the i-Ready reading assessment to screen for difficulties with site words, vocabulary and reading comprehension.

When will students be assessed with the Literacy Screener?

The RAN will be administered in December to all Kindergarten and 1st grade students.  It may also be used for older students when reading difficulties are detected.

The i-Ready computer adaptive assessment, which includes the phonological awareness and phonics assessments, will be administered in the first weeks of school for 1st-5th grade students, and then all kindergarten - 5th grade students in January and April.

What happens if the screener process indicates my student has a reading difficulty that may be associated with dyslexia?

The literacy screener will indicate if students Need Improvement, are Approaching Grade Level, or are At Grade Level in the assessed skills.  Parents will be provided the i-Ready Family Assessment Report (learn more here).

At Grade Level: This means the student has already demonstrated proficiency on the assessments expected by the end of their grade level.  In the fall, this would be considered an advanced level of proficiency.

Approaching Grade Level: This means the student is working toward the level of proficiency expected by the end of their grade level.  It is expected that most students are approaching grade level.  

Needs Improvement:  This means that a student is working on proficiencies below grade level.  

If a student scores Needs Improvement in phonics or phonological awareness, two key indicators of reading difficulties that may be associated with dyslexia, an academic diagnostic assessment will be administered (see next question.)  Students approaching grade level are monitored for progress toward meeting the grade level standards.  If a concern is identified, a student approaching grade level may be administered academic diagnostic assessment.

If the academic diagnostic assessment confirms a need for more intensive instruction or intervention, a student learning plan (SLP) would be developed.  A student learning plan describes the instruction or intervention the school will use to address the identified learning needs. 

Additionally, state regulations require that if ISD identifies a reading difficulty that may be associated with dyslexia, then families must be provided information about dyslexia.  This will include sharing our ISD dyslexia web page and providing the OSPI Dyslexia Fact Sheet (available in multiple languages here).  Receipt of this information does not indicate a student has dyslexia, as ISD does not diagnose students for dyslexia.  ISD uses the research and information about dyslexia to inform supports for students who have reading difficulties that are commonly associated with dyslexia, whether a student has a diagnosis of dyslexia or not.

Note on parent rights: You have the right to be informed by the Issaquah School District of your rights under Section 504.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act assures that students with disabilities have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to students without disabilities.  To learn more please see the ISD Notice of Rights. 

What is an academic diagnostic assessment?  (And what it isn't.)

An academic diagnostic assessment IS a tool to help teachers identify a student's specific skill deficits so that they can make a targeted, data-informed intervention plan. (adapted from

An academic diagnostic assessment is NOT an tool to diagnose a disability.

ISD uses the following academic diagnostic assessments when potential phonics and phonological awareness issues are identified through the i-Ready screener or other assessments or observations.

If Phonological Awareness is an area of concern the Phonological Assessment Survey, Form A by Really Great Reading is administered AND the phonics diagnostics below are also administered.

If Phonics is an area of concern the following diagnostics are administered.

  • For 1st grade: Foundational Skills Survey & Form BOY1A phonics survey (Really Great Reading)
  • For 2nd grade: Oral Reading Fluency (Dibels) & Beginning Decoding Survey BOY A (Really Great Reading)
  • For 3rd-5th grades: Oral Reading Fluency (Dibels) & Beginning Decoding Survey & Advanced Decoding Survey BOY A (Really Great Reading)

If Reading Comprehension is an area of concern the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment may be used as a diagnostic assessment.