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Dyslexia: An analysis of dyslexic students at the elementary level

Dissertation
Author: Lesley-Anne Balido-Dean
Abstract:
Dyslexia: An Analysis of Dyslexic Students at the Elementary Level is a study that researches the success rate of dyslexic students at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels on the reading portion of the TAKS test in a school district in south central Texas. In 2007, a school district in south central Texas implemented a dyslexia program, Basic Language Skills, which utilizes all learning pathways in the brain (visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile) simultaneously in order to enhance memory and learning (Neuhaus Education Center, 2009). The district studied implemented the new program because the program previously used was not yielding the results that the district was desiring. The dyslexic students were not progressing, as they should. This study examined the specific population of dyslexic students at the third, fourth, and fifth grade levels to determine their success rates based on the standardized testing. The focus of the study was to determine if the dyslexic students in the district in south central Texas were being best served with the Basic Language Skills program. From the analysis of data, it can be concluded that the variables in the population studied, from which the samples were drawn, were not dynamically related to each other. Statistical independence existed. In other words, dyslexic students at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels in the district studied across the three years performed proportionately identically. That is, the Basic Language Skills program that the district in south central Texas is implementing is working for the dyslexic students.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT in DEDICATION v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vi TABLE OF CONTENTS vu LIST OF TABLES x CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Introduction 1 Statement of the Problem 2 Purpose of the Study 3 Research Questions 4 Research Hypotheses 5 Significance of the Study 5 Assu| _nnf'ons 6 Limitations and Delimitations ot the Study 6 Definition of Terms 7 Oigamzation of the Study 10 CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Introduction 11 Histoi} of D\slexia 11 Diagnosing Dyslexia 16 Dyslexia S) mptoms and Chaiacteustics 17 vu

Dyslexia and Public Education 20 Social and Emotional Problems Related to Dyslexia 22 Dyslexia Assessment Procedures 26 Exiting a Campus Dyslexia Program 27 Instruction for Students with Dyslexia 28 Accommodations 29 Eligibility Requirements 30 National Scope 31 Texas Scope 31 Summary 32 CHAPTER III. METHODOLOGY Introduction 34 Research Questions 35 Null Hypotheses 36 Research Methodology 36 Research Design 37 Population and Sample 38 Procedures 38 Data Analysis 39 Reliability and Validity 40 Summary of Methodology 40 CHAPTER IV. ANALYSIS OF DATA Analysis of Data 41 viii

Data Preparation 44 Descriptive Analysis 45 Analysis of Research Questions 50 Results Summary 59 CHAPTER V. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS Introduction 61 Analysis of Data Summary 61 Overall Chi-Square Findings 64 Conclusions 64 Contributions 66 Recommendations for Additional Research 66 Summary 66 REFERENCES 69 APPENDICES 74 Appendix A. Application for Approval of Investigation (IRB) 75 Appendix B. Approval of Investigation (IRB) letter 84 VITA 86 IX

LIST OF TABLES Page 4.1 Total number of participants by grade level across the three years studied 46 4.2 Total number of TAKS scores by year 47 4.3 Demographic information by gender 47 4.4 Demographic information by ethnicity of dyslexic students over three years at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels 48 4.5 Demographic information of economically disadvantaged dyslexic students over three years at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels 49 4.6 Demographic information for the special education dyslexic population over three years at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels 50 4.7 Cross-tabulation statistics for dyslexic students across three years at the third grade level based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores 53 4.8 Descriptive statistics for chi-square analysis based on third grade reading TAKS scores 54 4.9 Cross-tabulation statistics for dyslexic students across three years at the fourth grade level based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores 55 4.10 Descriptive statistics for chi-square analysis based on fourth grade reading TAKS scores 56 4.11 Cross-tabulation statistics for dyslexic students across three years at the fifth grade level based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores 58 x

4.12 Descriptive statistics for chi-square analysis based on fifth grade reading TAKS scores 59 xi

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15-20% of the population in the United States has a disability in reading (Fletcher, Fuchs & Barnes, 2007). Of those, 85% has dyslexia (Fletcher, Fuchs & Barnes, 2007). Although it is a disability, dyslexia is not a disease nor can it be cured. It is a processing deficiency. Multisensory methods of teaching are usually advocated for teaching dyslexic students, much the same as teaching a stroke victim to read again. Currently, there is not a cure for dyslexia but dyslexics can learn to compensate. With appropriate education, understanding, and time, many dyslexics can learn to read and write (Cloud et al., 2000). If a child has a reading deficiency, this will affect that child year after year. A child's reading skill at the end of third grade can even be a predictor of whether or not the student will graduate from high school (Slavin & Madden, 1995). With the appropriate program, however, dyslexics can learn to work with their deficiency (Cloud et al., 2000). In Texas, the identification and instruction of students with dyslexia are mandated and structured by two statutes and one rule (Texas Education Agency, 2007). The Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.003 defines what dyslexia and its related disorders are as well as sets testing and instruction mandates for students with dyslexia. The code also provides the Texas Board of Education with the authority to implement standards and rules for dyslexia instruction and testing (Texas Education Agency, 2007). Chapter 19 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §74.28 provides school districts and charter schools with an outline as to how dyslexic students should receive services. Lastly, The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 §504 created the assessment, evaluation standards and 1

2 procedures for dyslexic students (Texas Education Agency, 2007). The current definition from the International Dyslexia Association states that "dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological 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" (Lyon, Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2003, p. 1). In 2007, a school district in south central Texas implemented a dyslexia program, Basic Language Skills, which utilizes all of the learning pathways in the brain simultaneously in order to enhance the individual's learning and memory. The district studied implemented the new program because the program previously used was not yielding the results that the district desired. The dyslexic students were not progressing, as they should. This study looked at dyslexic student's Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) results after implementing Basic Language Skills in order to see if the program was working. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM While research abounds regarding what encompasses the reading disability known as dyslexia, there is a gap in the knowledge regarding success rates specifically for students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia (Fawcett, 2001; see also Lyon, 1995; Slavin & Madden, 1995), there is a gap in the knowledge regarding success rates specifically for students with dyslexia. The study examined the specific population of dyslexic students at

3 the third, fourth, and fifth grade levels over three years. These students were compared over 2007, 2008 and 2009 to determine if the success rates were similar based on the reading portion of the standardized TAKS test. The focus of the study was to determine whether students with dyslexia have been showing progress and are being served, as they should be. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY A need to find out if dyslexic students are progressing is imperative. If dyslexic students are in a regular education class, the program should address all of their areas of need and ensure that these students overcome the educational hurdles they face every day. The Texas Dyslexia Guidelines mandate that every school district must implement a program to assess and serve students with dyslexia (Texas Education Agency, 2007). Several programs are available for the dyslexic student. The school district that was examined in this study utilizes the basic language skills program, which is a multisensory structured program, based on the Orton -Gillingham approach. Programs that have shown to be the most effective are those programs that are based on the Orton-Gillingham approach (Fawcett, 2001). Most seem to be personalized in nature and based to fit the specific needs of the children to ensure their future success. According to Cummins (2005), reading achievement is essential for the development of other academic skills. The study examined the effects of reading instruction on the dyslexic students participating in a regular education setting in four elementary schools and two intermediate schools in a district in south central Texas. In the district studied, the elementary campuses are kindergarten through third grade. Fourth and fifth grade students are housed in the intermediate campuses. It is important to analyze the data obtained from the Texas mandated TAKS test scores to provide evidence

for this school district to continue supporting excellence in education for the dyslexic student population. It is also important to examine the results of the study so that school district leader's can make informed decisions as to the future of dyslexic students in their district. RESEARCH QUESTIONS The current study attempted to answer the following questions: 1. What is the demographic profile of dyslexic students in the school district in grades three, four and five? 2. Is there a statistically significant difference in success rates of dyslexic students in 2007-2008, as compared to 2008-2009, as compared to 2009-2010 at the third grade level based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores? 3. Is there a statistically significant difference in success rates of dyslexic students in 2007-2008, as compared to 2008-2009, as compared to 2009-2010 at the fourth grade level based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores? 4. Is there a statistically significant difference in success rates of dyslexic students in 2007-2008, as compared to 2008-2009; as compared to 2009-2010 at the fifth grade level based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores? RESEARCH HYPOTHESES 1. There is a statistically significant difference in the success rates of dyslexic third grade students in 2007-2008, as compared with 2008-2009, as compared

5 with 2009-2010 based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores. 2. There is a statistically significant difference in the success rates of dyslexic fourth grade students in 2007-2008, as compared with 2008-2009, as compared with 2009-2010 based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores. 3. There is a statistically significant difference in the success rates of dyslexic fifth grade students in 2007-2008, as compared with 2008-2009, as compared with 2009-2010 based on the reading portion of the Texas mandated TAKS test scores. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) changed the accountability system of public schools in the United States. By 2012, according to NCLB, all public school students must be proficient in reading, math, and science. The only thing schools will receive credit for is their ability to teach children to the level of proficiency of all children, not just those without disabilities (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2009). Educators need to know whether they will reach the demands of NCLB if they continue to provide the current instruction for dyslexic students. Therefore, the current study aimed to see if dyslexic children are receiving and progressing with the appropriate interventions for their disability in order for school districts to be in compliance and meet the challenges of NCLB.

6 ASSUMPTIONS The objective of dyslexia support is to develop reading strategies for the dyslexic child to use so that they can learn to work with their reading disability. Regardless of the students reading problems, all students are expected to achieve academic proficiency in all academic subjects, meeting or exceeding district and state guidelines (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2009). In the study it was assumed that all of the dyslexic students who were examined have been receiving dyslexia services outside of the classroom and were provided with the appropriate accommodations as stated in their Individualized Instruction Program (IEP). It was also assumed that the teachers in the schools studied had the proper training to effectively teach the dyslexic students in their classroom. Lastly, the assumption that the dyslexia services provided outside of the classroom were supported by individuals who were properly trained in the district's dyslexia program. LIMITATIONS AND DELIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY All schools are different and individual schools can even change from year to year therefore, there are many limitations that were considered. The study investigated only identified dyslexic students at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The study was also limited to six campuses, four elementary campuses and two intermediate campuses that were implementing a dyslexic program in a district in south central Texas. No other schools or grade levels were included in the study. The only quantitative data that was gathered were TAKS scores for the identified students through the south Texas district's central office. The TAKS scores for the reading portion of the test were obtained for third, fourth and fifth grade dyslexic students. The only scores used were for 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. The

7 scores obtained for these students produced the data necessary to answer the research questions that were posed in the study. DEFINITION OF TERMS The following terms were used throughout the study: Alphabetic Phonics is a structured system of teaching the language functions of writing, reading comprehension, reading, spelling, and verbal expression. The central emphasis is on the alphabet and phonics. The Alphabetic Phonics system was developed as an adaptation and modification of the Orton-Gillingham approach to remedial language training. The program was designed to work with individual students, but it has been adapted to work with small groups (Cox, 1994). Accommodation is changing the student's learning environment. This can be done by altering their materials, method in which a test is taken or work is produced, or number of answers. Accommodations cannot be made to the state curriculum standards (Texas Education Agency, 2009). Basic Language Skills is a dyslexia program, which utilizes all of the brain's learning pathways in order to enhance memory and learning. Dyslexia is a disorder where it is difficult to learn to read, write, or spell despite a conventional style of instruction, adequate intelligence, educational and socio-cultural opportunity (Tirella & Sargent, 1994). English Language Learners (ELLs) are students who are in the process of acquiring English as an added language (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000). Because the term Limited English Proficient (LEP) is gradually being replaced with ELLs, the term ELLs

8 will be used instead of "limited English proficient" (LEP) unless referring to the classification used by school districts or other government agencies. Learning Difficulty the person requires something additional to or different from the majority of other children of the same age in order to pursue the National School Curriculum within his LEA (Doyle, 2002). Limited English Proficient (LEP) refers to students whose primary language is other than English and whose English language skills are such that the student has difficulty performing ordinary class work in English (Texas Education Code §29.052, 1995). Native English Speaker (NES) is a student whose first or dominant language is English. In this study, language proficiency was determined by a home language survey (Freeman et al, 2005, p. 40). Native Spanish Speaker (NSS) is a student whose first or dominant language is Spanish. In this study, language proficiency was determined by a home language survey (Freeman et al., 2005, p. 45). No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) provides educators the opportunity to institute broad based reform with stringent new requirements related to teacher quality and paraprofessional qualifications. The focus of the legislation is on improving student academic achievement by ensuring schools and school districts make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), improving the quality of instruction through the hiring and retention of highly qualified teachers, providing staff with sustained high-quality professional development, implementing programs and strategies based on scientifically based research, and empowering parents to become involved in their children's educations (Texas Education Agency, 2009).

9 Orton-Gillingham Approach was developed by Samuel Orton who was a neuropsychiatrist and was the first to recognize dyslexic students in America in the 1920s. Samuel Orton discovered that nearly ten percent of the students in every classroom could not remember easily the way a word looks. For those students who have a more difficult time remembering how printed words look, Samuel Orton prescribed instruction in the multisensory integration of cursive writing, spelling, and reading. Phonemic Awareness refers to the more advanced ability to notice, identify, and manipulate the smallest particles that make up a word: phonemes. Phonemic awareness has the strongest relationship to later reading, and most tests focus on this level of awareness (Shaywitz, 2003). Phonological Awareness are all levels of awareness of the sound structure of words (Shaywitz, 2003). Second Language Learners (SLLs) are students who are acquiring a language in addition to their native language. This term refers to students acquiring English and students who are acquiring languages other than English (Cloud et al., 2000, p. 207). Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) was mandated by the 76 Texas Legislature in 1999. The assessment began to be administered in the 2002-2003 school year. This assessment measures the state's curriculum in reading, writing, English Language Arts, mathematics, science and Social Studies. The TAKS test is a prerequisite to a high school diploma (Texas Education Agency, 2009). Word Blindness was one of the first names given to dyslexia and, despite the passage of more than a century, a definition that is still quite popular in the public mind (Doyle, 2002).

10 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY The study was separated into five chapters. The first chapter presents an introduction to the study, the statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, the research questions, assumptions, limitations and delimitations of the study, definitions of terms and the outline of the study. The review of literature, as relevant to the current study, is discussed in Chapter II, which begins with an introduction to the review, discussion of the historical background dyslexia then moves on to the Texas and national scopes revolving around this reading disability. The chapter then concludes with information regarding testing accommodations that must be made for a dyslexic student when taking the reading TAKS test. Chapter III focuses on the methodology used in the study. The chapter begins with an introduction and research methodology used in the study. The chapter begins with an introduction into data collection and recording, the analysis of the data and a summary. The chapter concludes with the findings of the study and the interpretation and summary of results. To conclude, Chapter V focuses on an overall summary of the data analysis, conclusions and recommendations for implementation of the results and for further research.

CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE INTRODUCTION For unexplained reasons, dyslexia is a definite learning disability that inhibits the learning process in spelling, reading and/or writing, which is independent of intelligence and socioeconomic factors. Definitions of dyslexia include associated difficulties such as problems with sequencing and organization, spoken language, auditory and/or visual perception, and motor skills (Fletcher, Fuchs & Barnes, 2007). Terms such as 'dyslexia,' 'alexia 'and' word blindness' were created by neurologists to indicate the loss of the ability to read as a consequence of presumably minor, brain damage. In 1887, Rudolf Berlin seems to be the first to have invented the term 'dyslexia' to symbolize the condition of a somewhat less complete loss of the reading ability compared with alexia (Hjelmquist & Euler, 2002). Reading experts believe that dyslexia embodies a combination of reading problems. These authorities cite problems such as inadequate reading instruction, psychic stress, emotional immaturity, impaired hearing and poor vision (Fletcher, Fuchs & Barnes, 2007). Authorities have researched these areas to see what type of role they play in the academic life of a dyslexic student. Dyslexic students comprise a proportion of today's classrooms. It is crucial for educator's to become more knowledgeable about dyslexia instruction and to use this knowledge to further the academic development of students. THE HISTORY OF DYSLEXIA Dyslexia or "word blindness" is a developmental reading disorder which is a result from the inability to process graphic symbols. The process of reading and spelling 11

12 development in a person who has dyslexia is delayed even after they have been given instruction and help. Dyslexia is traditionally known as an impairment in reading, writing and spelling. It is assumed to be a neurodevelopmental learning disability that could be present at any level of intelligence. Dyslexics display a mixture of symptoms writing, math, attention, and reading areas, but reading discrepancies are the most well known attribute of dyslexia. The DSM-IV (cited in Daderman, Lindtren, & Lidberg, 2004), describes dyslexia, as a reading and writing disorder that could be inheritable, and, hence runs in families. Developmental dyslexia which is heritable and acquired dyslexia caused by a lesion in the brain are the two main types of dyslexia (Lyon, 1995). Throughout the 1800's, acquired dyslexia was the only type of dyslexia that was researched. In 1872, Rudolf Berlin began research on dyslexia. Berlin created the term dyslexia to describe difficulties in reading that he felt caused aphasia, an injury to the brain or a cerebral vascular injury. From the 1870's forward, a German physician, Kussmal, noted that difficulties in reading could be lost without aphasia being present. Kussmal called this condition alexia or "word-blindness." Two different types of word- blindness were found. In one type, a person was able to write but unable to read, and in the other, a person could not read or write. In 1887, a French neurologist, Charcot, also presented the same theory about dyslexia. In 1892, the French neurologist Dejerine discovered the location of the brain injury (Hooper, & Hynd, 1985). In 1965, Ron Bateman (Bishop, 2006 p. 256) defined dyslexia as a "specific form of verbal amnesia which the individual has problems in memorizing the traditional meanings of graphic symbols." Soon after, other researchers broadly accepted the theory that dyslexia is a

13 product of a brain lesion that causes the inability to read and write. Today, this type of reading inability is still termed acquired dyslexia. "Developmental dyslexia," however is another well-known type of dyslexia where the symptoms appear during the development of a child. In 1895 and 1917 James Hinshelwood published articles on dyslexia where he defined it as reading deficits in children without any abnormal condition of the brain. These children developed a difficulty in the visual memory of words, sounds and letters. Besides those difficulties they were just like all other children. Hinshelwood understood that this problem was hereditary and more common in boys but it was a dilemma that could be cured. His research earned recognition as one of the forefathers of the study of dyslexia (Hinshelwood, 1904, 1907, 1911, 1917). Another researcher of developmental dyslexia is the American psychiatrist and neurologist, Orton, who ideas are still part of the world of dyslexia today. Orton believed that the cause of dyslexia is an unusual genetically determined condition of the brain that inhibits the regular processing of the visual perception of letters. Orton's research revealed that most patients with writing and reading difficulty are perplexed with similar letters, or patterns of those words, and they tend to reverse such patterns. This pattern was termed "strephosymbolia," the twisted symbol theory (Orton, 1937). This theory struck the attention of educators and doctors who adjusted the dyslexia concept as more than a biological factor. The researchers illustrated many different types of symptoms that could stand-alone or come together in a dyslexic person, but all in all, almost all of the researchers hold that dyslexia is a reduced phonological awareness and inability to

14 perceive the links between units of words and letters in reading and writing. It was also concluded that dyslexia is indeed curable. After the 1970's cognitive psychology and neuroscience provided the most convincing results in the research of dyslexia. Within the realm of psychology, Isabelle Y. Liberman along with her husband Alvin Liberman and Donald Shankweiler of the Haskins Laboratories, strongly influenced the study of dyslexia by demonstrating the importance of speech in particular and language to the development of reading skills. Their research provided that the linguistic determination of children's reading and language errors is quite important. Reversal or visual errors only explain a small amount of reading errors. Liberman and her colleagues also found difficulties that deal with reading are most likely linguistic in nature. Today, the Haskins Laboratories continue to study reading and language, utilizing methods like neuroimaging (R. et al., 2000). Other research followed such as studies done by Luria, Mattingly and Naidoo. Luria (1974) found that reading, writing and speech are all components of the same activity, and that the difficulties observed in naming tasks affected speech. Mattingly (1972) stated that good phonological awareness is fundamental in order to be a successful reader. Naidoo (1972), however, detected that individuals with dyslexia have problems with their memory particularly with storage capacity, and that they could also experience other problems besides deficits in phonology. Two studies (Spring and Capps, 1974; Denckla and Rudel, 1976) explained that dyslexics, for the most part, have a strong vocabulary but in naming objects they are slow. Denckla and Rudel's "Rapid Automatized Naming," was designed as serial rapid naming task (colors, objects, letters, and numbers), and became the standard assessment to measure this skill. Scores are

15 based on phoneme awareness and reading skills. It became clear, at this point, that it was important to study the relationship between reading ability and cognitive and language skills in order to find out which skills are essential in the development of reading the etiology of dyslexia (Denckla & Rudel, 1976). Since the 1970's, theories of dyslexia have steadily moved from visual to linguistic explanations of the disorder. In 1975 the National Committee on Learning Disabilities was created in the United States was developed because of the immense amount of theories and research regarding dyslexia. This group suggested the creation of subgroups in order to study each part of dyslexia Many definitions of dyslexia exist today but the definition that represents the most current state of the field is the one that was published by Dr. Reid Lyon (1995) in Annals of Dyslexia. Dr. Lyon is the Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health. He states that dyslexia It is a specific language-based disorder of constitutional origin characterized by difficulties in single word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient phonological processing. These difficulties in single word decoding are often unexpected in relation to age and other cognitive and academic abilities; they are not the result of generalized developmental disability or sensory impairment. Dyslexia is manifested by variable difficulty with different forms of language, often including, in addition to problems with reading, a conspicuous problem with acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling (Lyon, 1995 p. 23).

Full document contains 99 pages
Abstract: Dyslexia: An Analysis of Dyslexic Students at the Elementary Level is a study that researches the success rate of dyslexic students at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels on the reading portion of the TAKS test in a school district in south central Texas. In 2007, a school district in south central Texas implemented a dyslexia program, Basic Language Skills, which utilizes all learning pathways in the brain (visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile) simultaneously in order to enhance memory and learning (Neuhaus Education Center, 2009). The district studied implemented the new program because the program previously used was not yielding the results that the district was desiring. The dyslexic students were not progressing, as they should. This study examined the specific population of dyslexic students at the third, fourth, and fifth grade levels to determine their success rates based on the standardized testing. The focus of the study was to determine if the dyslexic students in the district in south central Texas were being best served with the Basic Language Skills program. From the analysis of data, it can be concluded that the variables in the population studied, from which the samples were drawn, were not dynamically related to each other. Statistical independence existed. In other words, dyslexic students at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels in the district studied across the three years performed proportionately identically. That is, the Basic Language Skills program that the district in south central Texas is implementing is working for the dyslexic students.