Early Childhood Educators’ Perceptions of Dyslexia and Ability to Identify Students At-Risk

  •  Michelle Gonzalez    
  •  Tammy B. H. Brown    


This study primarily explored the perceptions of dyslexia held by early childhood educators teaching in Head Start centers. A secondary purpose was to investigate how early childhood educators in Head Start centers perceive the notion of risk for dyslexia and how they identify at-risk students in ways that are consist with the results of a research-based assessment instrument. A case study approach was used for this study of two Head Start centers, one in the state of New Jersey and one in the state of Pennsylvania. Two teachers in each center (n = 4) and a total of 19 preschoolers participated in the study. Data were gathered using semi-structured interviews, observations, a teacher rating scale, and the Preschool Early Literacy Indicator (PELI) assessment. Findings indicate that the Head Start teachers held the prevailing misconception that dyslexia is a visual processing disorder rather than a phonological processing disorder. The Head Start teachers did not view phonemic awareness as a key factor in identifying children at-risk for dyslexia. Participants had a high success rate in identifying students at-risk in the areas of alphabet knowledge and oral language, but not in phonemic awareness and vocabulary. The results suggest that the stereotypes of dyslexia are hard to dispel and that professional development for pre-service and in-service teachers in early literacy practices and dyslexia are needed.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-5250
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-5269
  • Started: 2012
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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