The Austin Independent School District is expanding services for dyslexic students through a new specialty program in middle school.

Soft SkillsAt Covington Middle School, the new program will focus on identifying dyslexic students who did not receive services in the early grades that are now available to students.  Austin in a model for dyslexia services in Texas.

Only a few years ago, only 3 percent of all students in Austin were identified as dyslexic, compared to national estimates of 10 to 20 percent. Today, there are nearly 8,600 students receiving dyslexia intervention services, five times more than six years ago. The district employs 81 evaluators who have specialized training to help the students.

“We were missing a lot of kids,” said neuropsychologist Rachel Robillard, head of the district dyslexia department. “We now have a better process and better training to improve the identification piece and the training.”

In 2013, when Robillard first came to the district, there were only three certified academic language therapists. Today there are 81. Students were not screened until third grade.  The district began to screen in kindergarten through second grade, when students begin to learn to read instead of waiting until there should be some reading proficiency.

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