Carol Klages

Carol Klages

Reading is not a natural process. One must be taught to read in a systematic, structured manner.

The cost of reading difficulties in American society is widely accepted and largely incontrovertible. American employers spend $125.9 billion dollars to train potential employees in the areas of remedial reading, writing and mathematic skills. Students who do not learn to read will have difficulty mastering academic content, filling out job applications, reading prescription labels, and the list goes on. Not every child who learns to read is going to have a reading difference, but some do.

One of the reading difficulties identified is dyslexia. According to The International Dyslexia Association, approximately 20 percent of the population is dyslexic. Dyslexia is a cluster of symptoms that cause language processing issues for one’s entire life. Dyslexics often experience difficulties with both oral and written language skills, such as reading, writing and pronouncing words. Yes, a dyslexic student can learn to read.

If students with dyslexia get effective phonological awareness and phonics instruction in kindergarten and first grade, they will have fewer problems learning to read on grade level than children who are not identified or assisted until third grade. About 74 percent of students who are poor readers in third grade stay poor readers in ninth grade, often because they are not taught using appropriate Structured Literacy instruction with the necessary intensity or duration. Often, they can’t read well as adults, either.

Research shows that programs utilizing structured literacy instructional techniques help children and adults learn to read. Structured literacy is teaching reading in an explicit, systematic, structured manner while focusing on five components vital to reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Recently, the University of Houston-Victoria graduate literacy program added a dyslexia certificate that is available to anyone seeking more information about dyslexia and teaching students with reading difficulties. It is a totally online program that can be completed in nine hours and less than two semesters.

Recently, one of our certificate recipients, Laura Black, completed UHV’s certificate program, which prepared her to take and pass the national Knowledge and Practice Exam Effective Reading Instruction examination.

If you are interested in the dyslexia certificate or other students with reading difficulties, please contact Carol Klages, UHV associate professor of literacy, at

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Carol Klages is an associate professor of education in the University of Houston-Victoria School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development.

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