Screening for Irlen Syndrome on a school or district-wide basis is a key initiative for the Foundation. Ensuring that no school child goes unidentified by 2025 is one of our primary goals, and system-wide screenings throughout educational institutions is one way to achieve this goal. Our Irlen Pilot School Program helps increase access to interventions for Irlen Syndrome by training school staff how to identify students with Irlen Syndrome and implement appropriate intervention on-site.
Mastery Charter School Pickett Campus in Philadelphia, PA
The newest recipient of the ISF Irlen Pilot School Program Grant is the Mastery Charter School Pickett Campus in Philadelphia. Mastery Charter services 840 African American students in grades 6-12. Twenty-five percent of these students are diagnosed with a disability in reading, writing, and/or math. Mastery Charter School will begin its pilot program in the winter of 2016, screening all at-risk students for Irlen Syndrome, and providing colored overlays to students who require intervention.
District-Wide Irlen Screening in Bay St. Louis/Waveland Schools in Mississippi
In 2014, the Bay St. Louis/Waveland School District embarked on a pilot study implementing Irlen Screening and Colored Overlays with 3rd graders. It was one of many interventions the district decided to implement as a way of combating the 3rd Grade Gate, a newly instituted policy that requires all third graders to be reading at or above grade level by the end of the third grade in order to progress to 4th grade. Based on past data, the district estimated that more than 25% of their third graders would not qualify to progress to 4th grade and would need to be held back.
Certified Irlen Screeners screened all 3rd grade students at one school, and students identified as having Irlen Syndrome were placed in either a test or control group. Children in the test group were given their prescribed Irlen Colored Overlay to use in class for three months, while the control group did not receive a colored overlay. All children’s reading performance was tested at the beginning of the year, and then again after the 3-month intervention period using the NWEA standardized assessment given to all children in the district in the fall, winter, and spring. Results after 3 months showed that whereas only 51% of the test group met the national norm in the fall, 70% of the test group met the national norm in the winter (after using their Irlen Colored Overlays for 3 months). In contrast, there was no increase in the percent of the control group meeting the state norm on the NWEA from fall to winter (50% met the norm at both testing points).
Based on the promising results of this pilot study, the Bay St. Louis/Waveland School District has approved an expansion of their Irlen Screening project to screen all children in the district (grades K-12). In 2016, the district reported 100% passage rates for all 3rd graders for the second year in a row.