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ILPD Information

Characteristics of Dyslexia

“Characteristics of dyslexia” is a defined term in Chapter 0520-12-05 of the Department of Education Rules that covers a student’s struggle with foundational reading skills, such as phonological and phonemic awareness, sound-symbol recognition, alphabet knowledge, decoding, encoding, and rapid automatized naming. Students must meet criteria to be identified as a student with characteristics of dyslexia, as well as receive a finalized individual learning plan for characteristics of dyslexia, or an Individualized Learning Plan-Dyslexia (ILP-D).


(a) Identified by the composite score of the universal reading screener and/or the Early Warning System (in grades 9-12 only); and

(b) Demonstrates deficiencies in fifty percent (50%) or more of the grade appropriate subtests of skills which support the goal of reading proficiently as identified by the Department’s Minimum Universal Reading Screening Matrix.”

Students with characteristics of dyslexia under TISA are served in the general education setting through the existing RTI2 framework.

Common Signs of Dyslexia Across Grades and Development.

Adapted from Alexander et al. (2023). See Understanding Dyslexia: A Guide for Tennessee Families for a more complete list.

Age Group




• Delays in language development or errors in speech sound production

• Mispronunciation of words

• Difficulties with phonological skills like rhyming or syllable identification/segmentation (word play)

• Challenges in letter naming/identification

Primary and Elementary School


• Difficulty with sound symbol correspondence (matching sound to letter)

• Persistent or ongoing confusion of similar looking and/or similar sounding letters

• Difficulties with phonemic skill tasks, such as isolating beginning, medial, or final

sounds, as well as segmenting the individual sounds in words

• Reading and spelling errors such as reversals, substitutions, omissions, additions,

transpositions, and the addition or omission of suffixes

• Difficulty with directions, especially multi-step

• Frequent errors when reading high frequency words

Middle School

• Slow or laborious oral reading fluency

• Significant difficulties reading and spelling longer words

• Lack of awareness in relation to word structure (morphology)

• Difficulties in written expression due to root issues in spelling and organization

• Challenges with reading comprehension due to word reading deficits

High School and Adults


• Persistent difficulty with word reading that affects comprehension

• Slower reading fluency

• Spelling and written composition challenges


No child’s development is the same. It is possible that children may reach developmental milestones at different points of the expected range. Reversals and errors are normal parts of learning to read. Persistent and ongoing difficulties in light of high-quality instruction and/or intervention, however, are suggestive of more significant reading struggles. Children with dyslexia continue to struggle after their typically developing peers have stopped.


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