Awareness to Action: How Adopting a Dyslexia Policy Can Positively Impact Instructional Practices for All Students


As Dyslexia Awareness Month comes to a close, we must acknowledge the grassroots efforts of parents, the commitment of teachers, and the actions of policymakers to ensure that students with dyslexia receive the instruction, supports, and accommodations needed to learn to read and to be successful in the classroom. However, the work is far from done.

The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as “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.”

These difficulties and approaches to teaching them effectively are outlined in a body of research that has been proven by science – the science of reading.

Policy Changes Practice

ExcelinEd’s approach to education equity and policy includes cultivating policy conditions to advance student-centered education systems, state by state. A Comprehensive Early Literacy Policy establishes support and intensive reading interventions for K-3 students to ensure they read on grade level by the end of third grade. Grounded in this policy are fundamental principles such as teacher training in the science of reading; screening for early identification of reading deficiencies, including characteristics of dyslexia; parent involvement and support; and intensive reading interventions for students severely below grade level.

In 2019, ExcelinEd engaged in 25 states to develop, adopt, implement, or improve Early Literacy policies. This summer, in collaboration with ExcelinEd’s  Early Literacy Network, the fundamental principles, policy summary, and model policy were updated to include guidance for universal screening and screening for characteristics of dyslexia, additional supports for teachers via literacy coaches, and the importance of adopting high-quality instructional materials. The updated Toolkit may serve as a resource when considering the most impactful way to affect change for ALL students.

If you are interested in joining the Early Literacy Network, a network of state education literacy leaders who support policy implementation, contact Kymyona Burk at For information on dyslexia requirements in your state, visit The National Center for Improving Literacy.

Solution Areas:

Early Literacy

About the Author

Kymyona Burk, Ed.D., is the Policy Director for Early Education at ExcelinEd. In this role, she supports states pursuing a comprehensive approach to K-3 reading policy by assisting state leaders in building new or improving existing K-3 reading policies, with a heavy focus on supporting successful policy implementation.

Solution Areas:

Early Literacy