You are here

Literacy and Students with Disabilities

Literacy Resources Specific to Students with Disabilities

Dyslexia Handbook

View the online Colorado Department of Education Dyslexia Handbook. 

Online Dyslexia Handbook

Dyslexia Handbook (PDF)

Literacy Resources for Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

  • Literacy Instruction and Intervention Resources
  • Dyslexia Resources

READ Act Information for Learners with Disabilities 

This document provides information on the implementation of READ plans for students with IEPS. Check out the IDEA and Colorado's READ Act Guidance document.

Differentiated Pathways: Including ALL Students with Disabilities in the Colorado READ Act


Beginning in the 2015-2016 school, students previously exempted or excluded from participation requirements of the READ ACT, including those with disabilities, will be assessed for a significant reading deficiency (SRD) and reported in the Spring, 2016 READ Act data collection. In order to meet the legal mandate that ALL students in grades K-3 be screened for an SRD, the Exceptional Student Services Unit, in collaboration with the Office of Literacy, has developed a Differentiated Pathways process. The Differentiated Pathways have been designed to include all students, even those who previously could not be assessed using one of the State-Approved READ Act interim assessments. Nine regional training were conducted in the late Fall of 2015 and early in 2016 which explained the features of the Differentiated Pathways.

Pathway #1

Differentiated Pathway #1 is simply using your choice of the State-approved READ Act interim assessments to screen students in grades Kindergarten through the third grade for a Significant Reading Deficiency. You have a choice of using any one of the seven approved interim assessments.

For more information (Office of Literacy and the READ Act)

Pathway #2

In Pathway #2, students who cannot be assessed with the interim assessment typically used in Pathway #1 as a result of an accessibility issue, are assessed using one of the other six State-approved interim assessments that will yield a valid score.

  • Read Act Approved Assessments
  • i-Ready licenses:  CDE is no longer able to provide complimentary i-Ready licenses for students who require accommodation and cannot be assessed with a READ Act interim assessment that requires expressive language skills. We apologize for any inconvenience. Districts and administrative units should directly contact the vendor of this assessment or another appropriate READ Act interim assessment to make needed arrangements for their use with students with specific accommodation needs that cannot be met with the interim assessment typically used for participation in the requirements of the READ Act.

Pathway #3:  Three Options

In Pathway #3, students are unable to access the approved interim assessments based on the nature of their disability.  Assessment options have been established for these students who may have been previously exempted from the Read Act. 

Braille Option  |  If you have any questions regarding this option, Email Tanni Anthony

  • The administrative unit's teacher of students with visual impairments should be consulted for all students requiring a braille format assessment.
  • If the district is using a paper-based approved interim assessment, it can be transcribed into braille for the student by appropriate school personnel (the TVI and/or a braillist).  If the district uses DIBELS or would like to use DIBELS for their braille students, this tool is available in commercial braille.  Copies of DIBELS in the Unified English Braille (UEB) format can be requested at no cost by the TVI through the Colorado Instructional Resource Center.
  • A teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) should be present for test administration and the analysis of the results.


Research-based Procedure for Hearing Impairment including Deafness  |  If you have any questions regarding this option, Email Shauna Moden

A differentiated pathway was created for a small percentage of students with Hearing Impairment including Deafness who are unable to access the approved interim assessments.  Three brief webinars are archived on this site to inform education teams about this pathway.

  • The Woodcock-Johnson IV (WJ IV) will be helpful in determining the reading level of students who are sign-dependent and do not benefit from amplification.
  • Two subtests of the WJ IV will be used for screening:
    • Subtest 1 – Letter Word Identification
    • Subtest 4 – Passage Comprehension
  • Three Webinars are available

#one – An overview of the rationale for choosing the WJ IV and scoring information (spoken English)

#three – A demonstration of the administration of the WJ IV for a student who is dependent on sign language

#two – An overview of the rationale for choosing the WJ IV and scoring information (American Sign Language)

Do you want to borrow the Woodcock-Johnson IV?

FAQ's when borrowing this assessment:

How long can I keep the WJ IV?  Each test kit will be loaned for two weeks and then should be returned to the ESSU.  If there are extenuating circumstances that require additional time, please call Shauna Moden at 720-413-0179.

Who can administer the WJ IV?  Any licensed educator can administer the two required subtests.  It is not mandatory for an educational psychologist to give the test to students.

How will I know how to give the WJ IV?  Instructions for giving the test are included in the test kit.  However, another professional in the district who has previously used the WJ to assess students will be able to quickly train you or answer your questions.  It is important that whoever administers the tests will maintain a neutral approach in order to achieve an accurate score for the student.

My district is several miles from the Denver area.  How do I get the assessment?  On the request form, it will be important to indicate if you want the test kit mailed to you or if you will pick it up at the ESSU’s offices.  The ESSU will mail and pay postage for regular mail to your school/district.  It will be the responsibility of the district to mail and pay postage for the return to the ESSU.  A representative from the district can always pick up and/or return the test kit.

Colorado Emergent Literacy Scales (CELS)  |  If you have any questions regarding this option, Email Gina Herrera

Colorado Emergent Literacy Scales (CELS) – this framework is designed to collect information through a structured portfolio process to determine if a student has a significant reading deficiency (SRD).  It is also designed to inform instruction for students who receive their instruction based on the alternate achievement standards or Extended Evidence Outcomes.​

For general questions or more information, please contact:

Ellen Hunter
Phone: 720-512-8614
Email Ellen Hunter


Having trouble with this webpage?


If you have problems with broken links or accessing the content on this page, please contact the Exceptional Student Services Unit at Please copy the URL link for this page into the email when referencing the problem you are experiencing.