chad, Author at Lexercise

An Overview of our Mississippi Dyslexia Screener

children in front of a school bus

In 2013, the State of Mississippi enacted a law requiring local school districts to implement State Board of Education-approved screening for dyslexia. The law (Mississippi Code § 37-173-15) specified that kindergarten and first-grade students in Mississippi would be tested for phonological awareness and phonemic awareness; sound-symbol recognition; alphabet knowledge; decoding skills; encoding skills; and rapid naming. The law also specified what steps would be taken if a child failed the test and who would be qualified to administer follow-up testing and evaluation.

At that time, there was no readily available comprehensive test that would cover all of the required skills. Since Lexercise had already introduced a free dyslexia screener for parents, the Lexercise team realized it could apply that knowledge and experience to build a screener to comply specifically with the new Mississippi legislation. Based on research-backed, open-source content, the resulting screener is automated for easy administration, scoring, and reporting.


Mississippi Dyslexia Screener: An Overview

Since 2013, the Lexercise Mississippi Dyslexia Screener has been used by thousands of teachers in Mississippi and other states where laws require screening of kindergarten and first-grade students. While it is designed to meet Mississippi code requirements, the screener can be used by any teacher or literacy professional. It is free, easy to use, and can be used for testing an unlimited number of students.

Our Mississippi Dyslexia Screener has built-in instructions, but here is a brief overview:

    • A simple log-in is required.
    • It is for use with Kindergarten and 1st Grade students only.
    • Lexercise recommends that the person administering the test review all instructions, materials, and test pages before conducting the first test.
    • Some pages require printing.
    • Each of the five tests screens for a specific skill and the student’s performance is marked by the administrator as the test proceeds. Some of the tests are timed and some are not.
    • The test pages provide instructions on how to proceed if the student is unable to complete a task.
    • When the tests have been completed, the screener automatically summarizes the student’s skills. This information can be used to recommend (if needed) a comprehensive dyslexia evaluation leading to a diagnosis.
    • Compiling a file or notebook for each student tested can be very helpful for discussions with parents and teachers.

apple, books, and blocks on teachers deskThe Lexercise Mississippi Dyslexia Screener has proven to be a fast, easy way for teachers to identify students at risk for dyslexia or other literacy struggles. It has also given the Lexercise team a great opportunity to engage with teachers and literacy professionals, get feedback, and start refining the screening process so that it is faster and even more efficient.

We invite teachers to try the free Lexercise Mississippi Dyslexia Screener for yourselves and let us know what you think. (If you are a parent, the right tool for you to screen your child is here.)

If you want to stay in touch and not miss any of our resources, make sure you sign up for our blog below. You can also contact us with any further questions. We are always happy to connect.

Schools Deny Dyslexia

Don't Deny and DelayWe hear from parent after parent that the school is failing their child. Unfortunately, schools deny dyslexia and delay children from getting the right help. There are many flaws in the bureaucracy of school systems that make it difficult if not impossible to identify a child with dyslexia and then provide them with the right intervention. Author Holly Korbey from KQED recently wrote about this difficulty in her article “Who Helps Kids With Dyslexia Gain Reading Fluency?”. The article highlights dyslexia expert, educational psychologist, and our friend Martha Youman, Ph.D.

Martha began as an elementary school teacher and quickly realized that despite her master’s in teaching she was completely uneducated to identify her struggling students as dyslexic. Since then, Martha has continued on to become a dyslexia expert and school psychologist to help identify and support those children with learning disabilities. picture of martha youman phdUnfortunately, that isn’t enough, Martha admits “… there are multiple bureaucratic barriers standing in the way of students getting help” (Korbey, 2015). Even if a parent is able to get their child an IEP after months if not years of passing through red tape, it may not be effective. Martha says “…..whether or not IEPs actually help depends upon the individual school’s resources, because teachers and paraprofessionals need to be trained on what exercises to do to help students diagnosed with dyslexia, and the best results come from individual instruction. She admitted that in many cases, IEPs don’t really work and many families must rely on private tutors” (Korbey, 2015). Dyslexia intervention in schools often means a child is taken out of class and given “extra help” in groups of 5-10. Yet individualized 1:1 help is absolutely necessary to teach a dyslexic child how to approach reading in a way that their brain is wired to learn.

Laurie Cutting, professor of special education and faculty director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic says “approximately 1-2 percent of kids will always struggle, but that leaves 48 percent — nearly all of that second half of the classroom — who would be greatly helped with direct instruction correctly administered”(Korbey, 2015). Cutting’s clinic uses the same Orton-Gillingham-based therapy that Lexercise provides; however, we have the advantage of helping any family no matter where they live. She goes on to explain the problem: “’You have a finite amount of money and a bunch of kids. The kids who are going to get the services are most likely the ones who are the most severe or have the most advocates… It’s sort of a fundamental fact of life. It’s too bad that we are not able to capture kids early enough to do some remediation so that they don’t have as many word-level problems. It’s too bad that teachers many times aren’t trained in a way that allows those kids to work through their weaknesses, to sound out their words. Because that would benefit all of the kids”(Korbey, 2015).

Teletherapy illustration-child with clinicianWho will help your child? We will. If you are concerned that your child may be dyslexic you can screen them for free here. Don’t wait for the school to provide inadequate help. Don’t let the school deny and delay your child the help that they need. Lexercise will match you with a specialized therapist who will help your child improve their reading to grade level in a matter of months!

Live Broadcast 42: Evernote for the Dyslexic Brain

picture of Ron Toledo

Ron Toledo, Senior Marketing Manager at Evernote, joined us to discuss how Evernote helps dyslexics and people with ADHD maximize their big-picture thinking. He showed participants how Evernote can be used to keep school, work, and home information in a format that works for dyslexics and people with ADHD.

Here at Lexercise we love Evernote, and part of our treatment is to teach dyslexics how to use Evernote in the way that works for them.


Watch the video below with our founder and Chief Knowledge Office, Sandie Barrie Blackley and Ron Toledo.


If you have any questions or need additional information about our services, you can email us at

Live Broadcast 39: In Appreciation of Handwriting

handwriting example

The Real Spelling team presented a film prepared especially for Lexercise. This film, like all of the Real Spelling Tool Box 2 resources, offers a deep understanding, not a methodology. Educators will be interested in the script’s crucial relationship with meaning and how this understanding can inform the teaching and learning of handwriting.

picture of Dan AllenAfter this, Dan Allen of Zurich International School and his 5th-grade students joined us from Switzerland to describe and demonstrate their study of English script and how it has changed the way they look at words.

Dan’s 18-year teaching career has spanned the globe, from inner-city Houston to Norway, and from Singapore to Switzerland.

For much of that time he could be heard saying things like, “Sound it out,”” or “i before e except after c,” or “It’s irregular, so you just have to memorize it.” Real Spelling and Real Script changed all that. Dan now incorporates genuine word inquiry into his classroom/language lab. He and his students love nothing more than discovering the story they know every word has to tell and then sharing that story with the world. 

picture of 5th graders






If you are interested in reading more about the importance of handwriting, check out additional blog posts below. And if you are interested in finding out more about how Lexercise can help your child overcome their learning challenges, you can check our services here or email us at



Broadcast 38: 21st Century Note Taking with the Livescribe Smartpen

Some months ago, I talked about assistive technologies that are helpful for people with dyslexia. Recently, one of our advisors alerted us to an exciting new tool for note-taking: the Livescribe smartpen.

The idea of this clever little device is that a student (or someone attending a meeting) can record what’s being said and take some notes that are linked to the recording. Easy playback and easy transfer to computer files allow information to be reviewed, stored and shared with a tap or a click. The pen has a robust amount of memory and comes packaged with essential software.


For dyslexic students (and adults), this means less struggling with note-taking and better focus on what’s being said, with plenty of time to review later on. Instead of relying on a single source of review — for example, a tape recording or written notes — the student has dual sources that are linked together.

picture of Janet Sankar, Director of Professional Services at LivescribeJanet Sankar, Director of Professional Services at Livescribe, joined us to discuss how the Livescribe smartpen helps people with language processing problems such as dyslexia and dysgraphia improve their note-taking skills. The Livescribe smartpen allows users to synchronize notes and drawings with an audio recording of a lecture. Students can easily replay what the teacher was saying at different points within their notes.

Janet began her career in elementary education. She later completed her Master’s Degree at Teachers College, Columbia University in Curriculum and Instruction with a certification in Reading. Janet has additional experience as a media specialist and has worked with technology tools for the last 16 years.

The recording of this webinar can be viewed below:


Additional Resources

Here are some of the links participants requested during our LIVE broadcast:

We are always happy to share tools with you that can help your struggling reader become a confident one. If you have any questions about this broadcast or our services, you can email us at

Live Broadcast 37: Math-U-See for Struggling Readers and Writers

Steve Demme, Author and Founder of Math-U-See joined us to discuss what makes Math-U-See effective for struggling readers and writers.

Steve is a former math teacher who has taught at all levels of math in public and private schools. Steve’s goal with Math-U-See is to help produce confident problem solvers who enjoy the study of math.

Homeschool families considering math curricula for their struggling readers and writers as well as other families interested in helping their children with math will enjoy this engaging webinar.

Broadcast 36: Creating High Quality Instruction in Teaching Reading

picture of Elisabeth LiptakElisabeth (Liz) Liptak is the Professional Services Director for the International Dyslexia Association, and joined us to discuss the IDA’s Knowledge & Practice Standards. She talked about how the IDA Standards can help teachers and parents recognize what to look for in high-quality reading instruction and how parents can get the help they need for their children who struggle with reading, spelling, and writing.

The IDA Standards serve as a guide to teachers and parents for selecting effective programs and methods for teaching children with dyslexia. Liz Liptak discussed how the Standards guide effective instruction, what teachers and clinicians need to know and be able to do to deliver effective intervention. The Standards provide guidance in the use of structured literacy in an intervention program. An effective program provides daily, structured practice in the following areas:

1. Phonology
2. Phonics and Word Study
3. Fluent, Automatic Reading of Text
4. Vocabulary
5. Text Comprehension
6. Handwriting, Spelling, Written Expression

Liz Liptak was formerly the Executive Director of the Washington Literacy Council, a community-based direct service program in Washington DC that served struggling adult readers and younger children. Liz also worked for two years on a reading research project at the Krasnow Institute, which was funded by the Department of Education. Liz has been a reading tutor since 1989, most recently in the DC Public Schools. Liz works closely with the IDA Board’s Standards and Practices Committee.

Click here to download the presentation for this Live Broadcast in pdf format.

Broadcast 35: Environmental Causes of Neuro-Developmental Disabilities

picture of Cindy Lawler, Ph.D.Cindy Lawler, Ph.D., joined us and discussed groundbreaking new research into the role of environmental contributors to neurodevelopmental diseases, including those that impact language processing. This research is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Lawler is acting chief of the Cellular, Organs, and Systems Pathobiology Branch in the Division of Extramural Research and Training. She is the lead NIEHS representative for extramural autism activities. This includes responsibilities as a program official for the NIH-funded Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) study, the Childhood Autism Risk from Genes and Environment (CHARGE) study, the Markers of Autism Risk in Babies-Learning Early Signs (MARBLES), and a multidisciplinary center that addresses environmental contributors to autism.  In addition to her programmatic role in autism activities, Lawler has primary responsibility for the NIEHS extramural portfolio of research in Parkinson’s disease research. She developed and manages the Centers for Neurodegeneration Science Program, which supports highly integrated teams of investigators studying genetic and environmental risks for Parkinson’s disease.

Watch the video below for our discussion or click here to download the presentation for this Live Broadcast in pdf format.



Live Broadcast 34: How CogMed Trains Working Memory

Picture of Peter Entwistle, PhDIn this broadcast, Peter Entwistle, PhD will join us to discuss how CogMed improves working memory for better focus and attention.

Dr. Entwistle is a CogMed Consultant for Pearson. He is a psychologist and has worked for a number of entities including The Psychological Corporation, University of Massachusetts-Boston Department of Counseling & School Psychology, Braintree Hospital, and Scituate Public Schools.

Dr. Entwistle has been a practicing psychologist for 23 years.


Watch the video below for the broadcast and if you prefer to download the presentation in PDF format you can do so here

Broadcast 33: Structured Word Inquiry and Scientific Study of Words

picture of Peter BowersPeter Bowers of WordWorks Kingston joined us to model and discuss an instructional approach called “structured word inquiry” that uses the linguistic tools of the word sum and the matrix to make sense of the spelling-meaning structure of words.

Peter Bowers is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He taught elementary school for ten years and is the founder of the Wordworks Kingston. His research on the effects of Morphological instruction has been published in journals such as Review of Educational Research and Reading and Writing. His workshops have helped schools take on a structured word inquiry approach in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. He is a passionate educator who is part of a growing community of learners/teachers who delight in making sense and meaning of English spelling through scientific inquiry.


Watch the video below for his presentation or click here to download the handout for this Live Broadcast in pdf format.



Broadcast 32: Ginger Assistive Technology for Struggling Writers

ginger software logoMiki (Michal) Feldman-Simon, Vice President, U.S. Operations, Ginger Software Inc., spoke with us about how struggling writers can use GingerSoftware.

Miki has varied experience in education, entrepreneurship, and organization management and has lectured on these topics worldwide. Miki has worked with children as young as kindergarten to adults in various educational programs in Israel, Australia, and the US. She has been managing the educational operations of Ginger Software since the start of the company in 2008.  Miki has a B.A. in Psychology and Educational Counseling and an M.Sc. in Organizational Behavior (graduated Magna Cum Laude) from Tel Aviv University. Miki’s passion is education and innovative educational programs.


Watch the video below to learn more or click here to download the presentation for this Live Broadcast in pdf format.


Broadcast 31: The Role of Assistive Technology in Dyslexia Treatment

picture of Mary K Alexander Mary K. Alexander of Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) shared how assistive technology can help students with Dyslexia and other learning disabilities succeed in education.

Mary K. Alexander is the National Program Director for Learning Ally.  Having worked with the organization for the past eight years, she has seen the national non-profit evolve and grow.  She has a passion for assistive technology, accessible instructional materials, and helping schools and states serve their students with print disabilities in the most effective manner.  Her interest is driven by her desire to make sure her youngest son, who is blind, has the best chance at a great education. Learning Ally has been a big part of his success. Mary and her husband live in North Texas with their three children.


Watch the video below to hear from Mary or click here to download the presentation for this Live Broadcast in pdf format.