Educators' Understanding of Dyslexia: A Survey Exploring the Need for Professional Development in the Areas of Prevention and Intervention

Floyd, Jennifer, Curriculum and Instruction - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Invernizzi, Marcia, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Dyslexia currently affects up to 20% of the population and 80-90% of all students identified with a specific learning disability are dyslexic (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009; Fletcher, Lyon, Fuchs, & Barnes, 2007; Hudson, High, & Al Otaiba, 2007; International Dyslexia Association, 2016 Vellutino, Fletcher, Snowling, & Scanlon, 2004). Due to the prevalence of dyslexia, educators must demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge of this subject in order to identify and support the dyslexic readers in their schools and classrooms. Although the available research base is limited, recent studies indicate that many educators lack knowledge of the dyslexia construct (Wadlington & Wadlington, 2005; Washburn, Joshi, & Binks-Cantrell, 2011). Specifically, educators are unable to provide accurate definitions of dyslexia, do not recognize key characteristics of the dyslexia construct, and continue to embrace many common misconceptions about dyslexia that have been rejected by empirical studies, which appears to demonstrate a division between research and practice. This study explores the dyslexia knowledge of K-5 educators in one school district in Virginia through the lens of the ecological systems model. Elementary educators in the Spring Valley1 division participated in a division-wide survey that evaluated their knowledge of dyslexia. The results from this study suggest that many educators in the district lack essential knowledge regarding dyslexia and endorse misconceptions about dyslexia that will affect their ability to identify and support dyslexic readers. The implications of this deficiency in knowledge are explored and suggestions for professional development are provided.

1 Spring Valley is the pseudonym for the school district in this study.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
dyslexia, educator knowledge, survey, ecological systems model, professional development
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