- The Academy for Learning, Literacy & Innovation Excellence (ALLIES) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the state's only public school specifically focused on serving students with dyslexia, utilizing interventions like small group sessions with its grades 2-5 population and seeing reading scores jump by their second year, Chalkbeat reports.
- The program follows, in part, the Orton-Gillingham Approach, helping students decode language in order to recognize words and read. Nothing is scheduled — not even assemblies — to conflict with the time students spend in their Take Flight therapy, with curriculum created by the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.
- The ALLIES model is more expensive for the district on a per student basis than other elementary schools in the district, at a cost of $10,000 per student compared to $6,000 to $7,000. The program is an ongoing push by the district to provide more support for students with dyslexia, including training for teachers.
Dyslexia is estimated to impact between 5-10% of the population, and serving students with the disorder is a struggle for all schools. But as the ALLIES program demonstrates, methods like splitting students into smaller groups and teaching them the rules on decoding language are effective.
But while providing targeted daily instruction to each student in small groups for three full years of elementary school may work, scaling it to traditional schools — not just those built around serving students with dyslexia — can prove difficult. And approaches like ALLIES aren't just launched overnight. Their success is a multi-year effort supported by strong building leadership. ALLIES' principal, for example, took classes to learn how to screen for dyslexia.
Other success stories include Decoding Dyslexia Massachusetts, the Wilson Reading System and the Arkansas Dyslexia Support Group for administrators seeking ideas on how to bring support into their schools.
Educators nationwide are increasingly making dyslexia screening and support a focus as attention grows around how widespread the disorder is. While screening and support for students — and training teachers — may ultimately be more costly for a district, the benefits are immeasurable when improving outcomes and opportunities for all students.