The Grand Forks school district has received $87,390 from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction to explore the best way to identify and serve young students who have dyslexia.

The school district will establish early screenings for students 6 years old and younger, as well as provide reading assistance and regular progress monitoring for students who are identified as having dyslexia.

Because dyslexia affects parts of the brain that process and interpret language, it influences a person’s ability to speak, read and spell, experts say.

Early detection is important in helping students with dyslexia to adjust to this condition and to live up to their potential as adults, school officials said.

Research has shown that as many as one in five students has dyslexia, said Kirsten Baesler, state superintendent of schools. “It is important that we identify who they are early in their young lives. With the right supports, students with dyslexia can adjust and thrive.

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"It is important to note that, although dyslexia affects a person's ability to read, there is no link between dyslexia and general intelligence," Baesler said. "Individuals with dyslexia are often creative and quick thinkers with strong reasoning skills."

Earlier this year, the North Dakota Legislature approved up to $250,000 for school districts to conduct dyslexia screening programs.

Other educational organizations that have also received grants for this project are the Kindred (N.D.) Consortium, $92,000, and West River Student Services of Dickinson, $50,000.

Altogether the groups that received the $230,000 in funding represent 19 school districts, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.

“Our school districts will be testing out and determining which procedures and instructional practices, and which screening procedures, are best and most suitable for our students in North Dakota,” Baesler said.

The educational organizations involved in the project will report annually to Baesler about the results of their programs. The superintendent is required to brief the Legislature about the projects’ effectiveness by July 2021.