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Welcome to the DISD Dyslexia Home Page.

Here you will find information on dyslexia and the instructional services we provide for dyslexia instruction.

Links for the Dyslexia Handbook in English and Spanish:

The updated Texas Dyslexia Handbook, linked below, is in effect as of February 10th, 2022.

New for 2023-24:  Dickinson ISD is pleased to announce that we were awarded a Dyslexia Training Grant from TEA in the amount of $187,904!  This grant will provide amazing professional development for our teachers. 


For more information, contact Karen Hollen.

From the TEA Website: Please note: House Bill 3928 was passed by the 88th Texas Legislature (Regular Session) and impacts dyslexia evaluation, identification, and services. While the agency works to update the necessary materials, be aware that the law is effective immediately. The State Board of Education's proposed timeline for its required changes will be communicated as that timeline is determined and communicated to the agency. The agency has created a brief overview video of the bill.


In Dickinson, we are already prepared to meet the provisions within HB 3928.  It has long been our practice to ensure someone with specific knowledge on dyslexia and related disorders is a member of the evaluation team and ARD committee when dyslexia is suspected / identified.


All of our dyslexia evaluations already meet the IDEA federal standards for learning disability determination within the full and individual evaluation (FIE). We have certified and trained staff on each campus to provide high quality dyslexia services.


What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge (Adopted by the International Dyslexia Association Board of Directors, November 12, 2002).


If your child exhibits several of the characteristics listed in the Characteristics of Dyslexia tab, please complete 



In Texas, we have a guiding document known as The Dyslexia Handbook.  Additional information can be found at the TEA website


In Dickinson ISD, we have used a single pathway for identification for dyslexia and dysgraphia for several years.  All of our dyslexia and dysgraphia evaluations are conducted as an IDEA evaluation, meaning that we seek fully informed parental consent, which contains proper prior written notice and is accompanied by the notice of procedural safeguards for a Full Individual Initial Evaluation (FIIE) under the IDEA. For all initial evaluations, parents are also provided a copy of the Guide to ARD Process

Interesting Facts about Dyslexia

  • More than 25 million Americans struggle with dyslexia
  • One in twenty children have a severe case of dyslexia
  • One in five has a milder case of dyslexia
  • It is estimated that 80% of those with dyslexia have a co-existing attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD)

Severe Dyslexia

  • Permanent type of dyslexia that improves little with age
  • Found in 3-5% of the population
  • Family History
  • Intensive early training can raise most to a reading level between 4th and 6th
  • Spelling skills rarely rise over 4th grade

Mild to Moderate Dyslexia

  • With proper intervention can seem to diminish as a person matures
  • 12-14% of school population
  • Equal ratio- boys to girls
    • More identification in boys (4:1)
  • Family History

Types of Dyslexia

  • Surface dyslexia- visual interpretation of printed symbols
    • Most easily diagnosed
    • Has nothing to do with visual acuity
    • Information is “scrambled in the language portion of the left side of the brain
    • Reversals, transpositions, inversions, mirror images, and scrambled sequences
  • Dysphonetic dyslexia- inablitlity to hear separate sounds within spoken language
    • Cortex does not process speech sounds accurately
    • Sounds do not register
    • Use of similar sounding words
    • Chunks of message are left out
    • Blocks development of spelling
    • “Tone deafness
  • Dysgraphia- poor graphmotor or writing ability
    • Awkward control of the pencil
    • Cramped or illegible handwriting
    • Many suffer from hand cramps
    • Handwriting gets more illegible the longer they write
    • Appears to draw the letters
  • Mixed

Good books for more information

Reading David: A Mother and Son’s Journey Through the Labyrinth of Dyslexia by Lissa Weinstein, PhD.

Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level by Sally Shaywits, M.D.

The Many Faces of Dyslexia by Margaret Byrd Rawson


Different Is Not Bad. Different Is the World by Sally L. Smith

The Worst Speller in Junior High by Caroline Janover

Josh: A Boy with Dyslexia by Caroline Janover

How Dyslexic Benny Became a Star: A story of Hope for Dyslexic Children and Their Parents by Joe Griffith

My Name is Brain/Brian by Jeanne Betancourt

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LEAs are required, per Texas Education Code (TEC), §38.003, to conduct universal dyslexia screening of students in kindergarten and first grade. Kindergarten students must be screened for dyslexia at the end of the school year, and first grade students must be screened no later than January 31st. The Dyslexia Handbook describes the screening criteria for this requirement. The updates to the Dyslexia Handbook include a reduction in the number of skills that must be included on the instrument used by LEAs to screen for dyslexia. The updated criteria for English and Spanish screening instruments are as follows: 

Kindergarten (done in May) First Grade (done by January 31)
Letter Sound Knowledge or Letter Naming Fluency Word Reading Accuracy or Fluency
Phonological Awareness Phonological Awareness

Dickinson ISD uses the mCLASS Texas instrument, which is a TEA approved instrument.


The Dyslexia team provides dyslexia therapy in accordance to The Dyslexia Handbook 2018 Update: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders, Texas Education Agency, Austin Texas, November 2018. The team has reviewed the new 2021 updates and are prepared to implement instruction accordingly.

We believe All children deserve the opportunity to read and write with success. Our mission is to uncover and illuminate the strengths of students with dyslexia.

All of our dyslexia interventionists meet or exceed the TEA requirements.  DISD uses both Neuhaus and Reading by Design instructional methodologies for dyslexia instruction.

Karen Hollen, District Dyslexia Specialist  has 25 plus years of experience including classroom teaching, reading intervention, instructional coaching and campus leadership. Karen received a Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies, a Master in Reading Education and post Masters certification in Leadership from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and she is currently enolled in an Educational Diagnostician certification program. She strongly believes that education needs to prepare students to lead a choice filled life that is not limited by weakness but defined by their strengths.

Dickinson Elementary & Middle School Campuses

Bay Colony Elementary

Amy Laughbaum

Silvia Sanchez

Calder Rd. Elementary

Ana Betancourt

Shelly Shaw


Hughes Rd. Elementary

Angie Higgins

K.E. Little Elementary

Jennifer Hong

Ashley Sanchez

San Leon Elementary

Christina Burkhardt

Denise Daniel

Christina Alvarado

Silbernagel Elementary

Sandra Gomez

Jessica Galvan

Barber Middle School

Gina Surovik

Traci Zamarripa

Dunbar Middle School

Elizabeth See

Teresa Tate


Lobit Education Village

Lisa Yates

Melissa Matranga (Elementary)

Rose-Anne Thompson (Middle)

Jillian Anderson (Middle)


Dickinson Secondary School Campuses

McAdams Jr. High School

LaWanda Williams

Cynthia Clark

Kranz Jr. High School

Jennifer Harmon

Shanda Gracia

Dickinson Jr. High School

Ana Vela-Hernandez

Arthenia “Tilly” Bluit

Dickinson High School

Thomas "Matt" Wellman




Dyslexia Referral

The following are the primary reading/spelling characteristics of dyslexia:

  • Difficulty reading words in isolation 
  • Difficulty accurately decoding unfamiliar words
  • Difficulty with oral reading (slow, inaccurate, or labored without prosody)
  • Difficulty spelling


It is important to note that individuals demonstrate differences in degree of impairment and may not 

exhibit all the characteristics listed above.


The reading/spelling characteristics are most often associated with the following:

  • Segmenting, blending, and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness) 
  • Learning the names of letters and their associated sounds
  • Holding information about sounds and words in memory (phonological memory)
  • Rapidly recalling the names of familiar objects, colors, or letters of the alphabet (rapid naming)

Consequences of dyslexia may include the following:

  • Variable difficulty with aspects of reading comprehension 
  • Variable difficulty with aspects of written language
  • Limited vocabulary growth due to reduced reading experiences


If your child is exhibiting the characteristics of dyslexia, then please click here to complete this form:   Parent Dyslexia Referral Form

General Characteristics to watch for: 

  • Difficulty reading single words in isolation
  • Difficulty accurately decoding nonsense or unfamiliar words
  • Slow, inaccurate, or labored oral reading (lack of reading fluency)
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Difficulty segmenting, blending, and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
  • Difficulty learning names of letters and their associated sounds
  • Difficulty holding information about sounds and words in memory (phonological memory)
  • Difficulty rapidly recalling the names of familiar objects, colors, or letters (rapid naming)


Consequences of dyslexia may include the following:

  • Variable difficulty with aspects of reading comprehension and/or written language
  • Limited vocabulary growth due to reduced reading experiences
Specific Characteristics by grade range:

Kindergarten and First Grade 

  • Difficulty breaking words into smaller parts (syllables) 
  • Difficulty identifying & manipulating sounds in syllables (e.g. “man” sounded out as /m/ /a/ /n/)
  • Difficulty remembering the names of letters and recalling their corresponding sounds
  • Difficulty decoding single words 
  • Difficulty spelling words the way they sound (phonetically) or remembering letter sequences in very common words seen often in print ( e.g., “sed” for “said”)

Second Grade and Third Grade

  • Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:
  • Difficulty recognizing common sight words 
  • Difficulty recalling the correct sounds for letters and letter patterns 
  • Difficulty connecting speech sounds with appropriate letter or letter combinations and omitting letters in words for spelling (e.g., “after” spelled “eftr”)
  • Difficulty reading fluently (e.g., slow, inaccurate, and/or without expression)
  • Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
  • Reliance on picture clues, story theme, or guessing at words 
  • Difficulty with written expression and/or spelling

Fourth Grade through Sixth Grade

  • Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following: 
  • Difficulty reading aloud (e.g., fear of reading aloud in front of classmates)
  • Avoidance of reading (particularly for pleasure)
  • Acquisition of less vocabulary due to reduced independent reading
  • Use of less complicated words in writing that are easier to spell than more appropriate words (e.g., “big” instead of “enormous”) 
  • Reliance on listening rather than reading for comprehension

Middle School through High School

  • Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:
  • Difficulty with the volume of reading and written work
  • Frustration with the amount of time required and energy expended for reading 
  • Difficulty with written assignments
  • Tendency to avoid reading (particularly for pleasure)
  •  Difficulty learning a foreign language 

Dickinson ISD has invested significant resources of time, energy and money into bringing the best training to our Dyslexia Interventionists.  We advocate following the Texas Dyslexia Handbook by providing the 8 critical evidence-based components and 6 methods of delivery of instruction (aka 8 X 6).


We advocate the use of the following methodologies:

Neuhaus Education Center

Reading by Design (ESC Region 4)


AKA 8x6

8 Critical, Evidence-Based Components


6 Methods of Delivery of Instruction

1. Phonological Awareness

(internal sound structure of words)

1. Simultaneous, Multisensory

(uses all pathways to the brain VAKT)

2. Sound-symbol Association

(alphabetic principle)

2. Systematic and Cumulative

(material follows the order of language)

3. Syllabication

(6 syllable types)

3. Explicit Instruction

(involves direct instruction that explicitly teaches each concept and leaves nothing to discovery)

4. Orthography

(written spelling patterns and rules)

4. Diagnostic Teaching to Automaticity

(Using continual assessment to teach to mastery and automaticity)

5. Morphology

(study of how morphemes are combined to form words

5. Synthetic Instruction

(how parts work to form whole)

6. Syntax

(grammar, sentence variation, mechanics of language)

6. Analytic Instruction

(breaks whole into parts)


7. Reading Comprehension

(extracting and constructing meaning from text)

8. Reading Fluency

(ability to read with sufficient speed and accuracy to comprehend)


Trouble Areas:

  • Seeing how numbers fit together
  • Counting
  • Calculating
  • Recalling math facts, like 2 + 4 = 6
  • Using concepts like “less than”
  • Using symbols like + and –
  • Telling left from right
  • Reading a clock
  • Working with dollars and coins

Ways to Help:

  • Blocks, number lines, and other tools to visualize how to solve math problems
  • Extra time for tests and other tasks that involve math
  • Technology like calculators and math apps to help make math easier to navigate

Helpful website:


Trouble Areas:

  • Inaccurate grammar and punctuation 
  • Ideas are disorganized
  • Ideas lack clarity
  • Mix of upper and lower case letters in one word
  • Unfinished words
  • Omission of letters and words

Ways to Help:

  • Initially, children with impaired handwriting benefit from activities that support learning to form letters: (playing with clay to strengthen hand muscles; keeping lines within mazes to develop motor control; connecting dots or dashes to create complete letter forms; tracing letters with index finger or eraser end of a pencil; imitating the teacher modeling sequential strokes in letter formation; and copying letters from models.
  • Subsequently, they benefit from instruction that helps them develop automatic letter writing, using the following steps to practice each of the 26 letters of the alphabet in a different order daily: [studying numbered arrow cues that provide a consistent plan for letter formation; covering the letter with a 3 x 5 card and imaging the letter in the mind’s eye; writing the letter from memory after interval that increases in duration over the handwriting lessons; and writing letters from dictation (spoken name to letter form)].
  • In addition to developing handwriting speed, they benefit from writing letters during composing daily for 5 to 10 minutes on a teacher-provided topic. Students benefit from explicit instruction in spelling throughout K-12


Helpful websites:


DISD Dyslexia Department 

Adopted 2019


All children deserve the opportunity to read and write with success.


Our mission is to uncover and illuminate the strengths of students with dyslexia.  Dyslexia Specialists will provide an Orton-Gillingham research-based approach to support academic growth in literacy.

Our Beliefs about:

Students... We believe that through the use of Orton Gillingham instruction, we provide multi-sensory instruction, intervention, support, and advocate on students’ behalf; therefore, providing the keys to unlock the potential of every student.

Parents...We believe in a support system for parents by providing quality training on characteristics of dyslexia, identification, effective teaching strategies, information on accommodations and modifications, and resources to facilitate their child’s academic growth.

Staff...We believe in educating teachers by disseminating information and offering practical advice on the characteristics of dyslexic students, identification of dyslexic students, effective, multisensory strategies for teaching students with dyslexia, and the accommodations needed for success in the classroom.

Dyslexia Specialists...We believe in fostering a sense of community among the department through ongoing communication and professional development.

Community...We believe that educating the citizens of Dickinson about dyslexia will promote an informed and supportive community.

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