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Dyslexia: Hidden Costs and Money-Saving Techniques for U.S. School Districts

Categories: Assistive Technology, dyslexia, Education & Teaching, The Great Reading Games

Dyslexia CostLearning Ally hosted a webinar on a hot topic for U.S. school administrators: “The Hidden Costs of Dyslexia and Money-Saving Techniques for School Districts.”  

More than 800 educators tuned in for this discussion lead by Terrie Noland, National Director, Education Engagement for Learning Ally.  Terrie spoke about three critical issues:

  • the lack of reading proficiency in schools

  • costs associated with not providing struggling readers with dyslexia support, and  

  • techniques to save teachers’ time and maximize school dollars by implementing systemic schoolwide reading accommodations.  

Get the full presentation in our Learning Ally webinar archives.

Lack of learning confidence is at the heart of many struggling readers 

Today, 10 million students are dyslexic – potentially one in five - a staggering fact.

Failure to read has far-reaching consequences for the student in academic, social and emotional well being and for teachers, families and communities. 

If children go undiagnosed with dyslexia - a learning disability - or do not receive appropriate reading interventions, they face years of frustration and never reach their true learning potential.  

Teachers also worry about their students who cannot keep academic pace. This may require them to spend more one-on-one time with those students.  

For schools and districts, adequate yearly performance data of low reading scores reflect poorly on the community and has parents and caregivers knocking at the administrator’s office door.

What are the costs of not supporting struggling readers? 

A 2015 National Association of Education Progress (NAEP) study suggests that among the 10,000,000 kindergartners entering school in 2016, 6.4 million of them will not read at grade level proficiency in four years.  

Thirty-six million Americans struggle with literacy above a 3rd-grade level today.

The lack of reading proficiency is a key reason why an estimated 8,000 students drop out each day limiting their financial potential and ability to compete in the workforce. 

  • One dropout will cost U.S. taxpayers $260,000 over a lifetime -- in lower wages, paying less in taxes, unemployment benefits, or worse - incarceration.  

  • Only 35% of adults with low literacy skills are employed. 

  • Adults that are employed earn $28,000 less than adults with proficient reading skills.  By 2020, the U.S. will face a shortage of 1.5 million workers with college degrees. 

  • Learning disabilities affect all populations, but the highest risk are children born into low-income households and students who have gone undiagnosed with dyslexia.

Money-saving techniques to close the learning gap 

Ideas to Jumpstart Your Action Plan

State Provides Nearly Half of School Funding

1. Implement early screening techniques to identify students with reading challenges. 

  • This can save schools tens of thousands of dollars not to mention lessening the heartache and frustration of students, teachers and families. 

2. Pool federal, state and local funding streams.

  • Investigate grant monies from your local school boards to enable your district to maximize systemic reading support across all grades and instructional environments. 

3.Provide reading accommodations as early as possible.

  • Students who struggle to read attend both special and general education classes. Are you accommodating these students? Some students may have an IEP or a 504 plan that requires a reading accommodation, but many others also need this support to be successful. 

  • Educate teachers, curriculum, IT and administrators on the benefit of accessible books (multisensory learning representations) and the scientific reasons behind student engagement, including universal design for learning (UDL) strategies. 

  • Introduce human-read audiobooks, narrated by skilled experts, shown to take learning engagement to a higher level of comprehension. 

  • Provide access to grade-level material, including textbooks, literature and popular reading in quality digital accessible formats.

  • A quality digital library, like Learning Ally’s can serve the reading interests of all age students on all grade levels. 

  • Students can read books at school or at home, without Internet access.

4. Give teachers data-driven performance tools to manage reading assignments and monitor students’ reading goals.

  • Track student reading progress and behavior with teacher resources, like those in Learning Ally, that give insight into students’ preferences and habits, enabling teachers to individualize reading goals.

  • Reading engagement is a critical component for struggling readers’ success.  

  • Reading improvement begins with motivation and engagement, but teachers don’t always have the time to plan and manage prolonged reading activities on a class or school-wide basis. 

  • We all know that students often lose skills over the summer. An audiobook solution, like Learning Ally, makes access to grade-level reading timely and enables U.S. schools and districts to easily expand their educational library of academic titles in an accessible format. 

  • As importantly, innovative teachers need structured programs that can help them to easily tap into fun reading competitions. Learning Ally’s reading engagement programs, like the Great Reading Games, are uniquely developed to build strong reading habits in struggling readers. 

  • These competitions go a long way to recognize struggling readers for their efforts and to strengthen their belief system as academic achievers. This successful outcome transforms the learning experience for more students, reduces dropout rates and absenteeism, and increases the likelihood of improving school-wide academic outcomes.  A win-win solution!

Are there students with dyslexia in your school who display high intellectual potential, but lack the ability to read and comprehend grade-level text?

When you assess the overall cost of not supporting these students across all grade-levels as early as possible, you can see the magnitude of impact -- on the student, the teacher, the school and the nation -- not just in school years, but well beyond. From a dollars and sense standpoint, accommodating these students today is the most effective solution.

Imagine more students able to comprehend complex information; increase their ability to use their critical thinking skills; read with more fluency, enjoy larger vocabularies and believe in themselves as grade-level achievers and confident lifelong learners.

It is never too late to transform more struggling readers into grade level achievers.

Join the Learning Ally community of 13,000 U.S. schools and districts.

Phone: 800-221-1098

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