Skills to Screen for in Kindergarten
Predictive of Dyslexia
In kindergarten, letter-sound knowledge is the most robust predictor of reading ability (McBride-Chang, 1999; Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte 1994). Letter-sound knowledge is at the intersection of phonology and written language because it reﬂects the knowledge of letter names, the sounds they make, and their visual representations. However, the skill has several predictive limitations, it reaches a predictive ceiling in late kindergarten (Schatschneider et al., 2004), and letter-sound knowledge is thought to be strongly inﬂuenced by environmental factors, such as home literacy, and thus may reﬂect lack of experience rather than a cognitive deﬁcit (Senechal & LeFevre, 2002).
Poor phonological awareness for the sound structure of spoken words is a reliable early indicator of dyslexia risk. Phonological skills such as rhyming, blending and segmenting tasks correlate with reading outcomes in later grades (Scarborough, Dobrich & Hager, 1991).
Due to the hereditary nature of dyslexia, family history is considered a strong risk factors (see review in Gaab & Ozernov-Palchik, 2016). Familial studies suggest that dyslexia occurs in up to 68% of identical twins and up to 40–60% of individuals who have a ﬁrst-degree relative with dyslexia (See Resources for more information). Assessments should include questions regarding a family's known history of dyslexia, struggles with reading or academic failure.
Rapid Automatized Naming
Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) refers to the automaticity with which the names of a set of serially presented symbols such as objects, colors, letters, or numbers can be retrieved. RAN parallels the cognitive demands of ﬂuent reading, and is a strong early predictor of later reading ﬂuency (Schatschneider, Fletcher, Francis, Carlson, & Foorman, 2004). The predictive power of RAN also varies depending on what stimuli are used (e.g., numbers, pictures, or letters), with colors and objects being stronger predictors in earlier grades (Norton & Wolf, 2012).
Predictive of Comprehension Challenges
Oral Language Ability
Slow language development as indicated by delayed onset of talking, short mean length of utterances, lower complexity of syllables produced, and poor receptive or expressive vocabulary, has been associated with poor literacy outcomes (Flax, Realpe-Bonilla, Roesler, Choudhury &Benasich, 2009; Lyytinen, Eklund, Lyytinen, 2005). An important distinction has been made between receptive and expressive language development. While most late-talkers with typical receptive language will develop typical literacy skills, children with language delay in both expressive and receptive realms are more likely to experience persistent language and reading difﬁculties (Rescorla & Roberts, 2002; Scarborough, & Dobrich, 1990).