Current best practice in Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District 11 includes universal screening of all students beginning in kindergarten. Universal screening takes place in the fall, winter and spring of each year and is completed for the purpose of identifying students who may be at risk for reading difficulties and not mastering specific skills which correlate to broader reading achievement. The universal screening tool is specific to the grade level in which it is administered and delivered by trained teachers.
It is important to recognize that some children will experience difficulty in acquiring reading skills that help them become proficient readers and writers. Not all children with reading difficulties will be identified as having dyslexia. However, identification of potential indicators (characteristics consistent with) of dyslexia is critical in making instructional decisions for young students. Recent legislation in Minnesota mandates screening for students who exhibit one or more potential indicators of dyslexia or other reading disabilities.
The definition of dyslexia is included in Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.01. As stated in statute, "dyslexia" means a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent recognition of words 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 the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. Students who have a dyslexia diagnosis must meet the state and federal eligibility criteria in order to qualify for special education services.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) dyslexia team is currently focusing on supporting school efforts to screen and identify students with characteristics of dyslexia and develop teacher capacity to provide evidence-based reading instruction.
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.
Convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes are unable to work together when trying to focus on nearby objects. When looking at the object, this condition causes one eye to turn outward instead of inward with the other eye creating double or blurred vision.
Convergence insufficiency is usually diagnosed in school-age children and adolescents and can cause difficulty reading, for which parents or teachers might suspect the child has learning difficulties rather than an eye disorder. This condition typically isn’t detected in routine exams or school-based vision screening. The following is a list of cues to observe if it is suspected that a child’s eyes are not working together.
Physical cues of vision difficulties
- Loses place when reading
- Blurred or double vision
- Omits small words when reading
- Avoids near point work
- Headaches or dizziness
- Difficulty copying from the board
- Squinting, rubbing, covering or closing an eye
- Eye strain after completing close work
- Reports that words/letters appear to jump, move, float or swim