Adolescents: Web-based Resources

21st Century Skills

Alliance for Excellent Education

Alliance for Excellence in Education

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Center on Instruction

Classroom Modeling with Anita Archer

Dylan Wiliam and Formative Assessment

The Education Alliance at Brown University

The Education Trust

Marzano’s Instructional Strategies

International Reading Association

International Reading Association’s Position Statement on Adolescent Literacy



Learning First Alliance

Literacy Matters

National Center on RTI

National Staff Development Center

NCTE Adolescent Literacy\

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

PA Standards Aligned System

Reading Next

RTI Action Network

Scholastic Adolescent Literacy Resource Center

SEDL: Building Reading Proficiency at the Secondary Level

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory


Adolescent Literacy

Truths about Adolescent Literacy

  • Adolescence is not too late to intervene.  Interventions do benefit older students.
  • Older students with reading difficulties benefit from interventions focused at both the word and text level.
  • Older students with reading difficulties benefit from improved knowledge of word meanings and concepts.
  • Word-study interventions are appropriate for older students struggling at the word level.
  • Teachers can provide interventions that are associated with positive effects.
  • Teaching comprehension strategies to older students with reading difficulties is beneficial.
  • Older readers’ average gains in reading comprehension are somewhat smaller than those in other reading and reading-related areas studied.
  • Older students with learning disabilities (LD) benefit from reading intervention when it is appropriately focused.

Scammacca et al., 2007

Customer Reviews

Customer Reviews

  Thank you Holly so very much for your kind email and incredible support and guidance through the years. You are an amazing advocate for all our children, and we feel lucky to have you and your team in our lives.” – S&T

  BTW…You are an amazing woman…I don’t get the chance to tell you that much in the pass off during sessions, but you have been a miracle worker in our lives.  I hope that everyone in the world knows you are so amazing, and I hope too that more practitioners get to hear from you about how tutor and teach in order to save these talented kids from so much emotional trauma and a potentially marginalized life that can result for kids when dyslexia isn’t addressed with acceptance, deep understanding (not just clinical understanding), love and skill.
You have brought more joy and hope into this house than I can ever tell you – SA

  Thank you for the appt notes. As we were walking out, G shared that it was his best Ms. Joni’s of the year so far. He was very excited to tell me he was “finally mastering” long division.  At bedtime, he also told R and I that “it’s just been a great day for me”. Can’t beat that!  – J

  I took the PSAT and I got a 1300. I got a 660 on the reading and writing and a 640 on the math. I did better on reading and writing than I did on math! A 1300 is the 97th percentile and I owe it all to you. THANK YOU! I miss you! Love, DC

  Hi Kristen, I wanted you to know that C had her reading assessment done today and she more than doubled her level from the end of the year!! Thank you!!

   Hi Holly, Just thought you should know that so far S has been accepted at DU, Lewis and Clark, Seattle U, Savannah College of Art and Design and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). She got scholarship offers from Seattle and Maryland. 
I’m thinking you should use her for advertising in case you need an awesome success story! Seriously though you were the EXACTLY what she needed and we are so grateful for all your love and dedication!  – XOXO, K

   So, K almost always gets along well with his teachers and tutors. However, I have NEVER seen him so happy or sound so effusive after meeting with you today.

“Mom, she’s a genius. She knows everything about dyslexia and language and she explains it in a really interesting way.” He went on and on. He talked – whole, long sentences – for a long time in the car. I can hardly get him to mumble yes or no in the car most days.

Let’s be honest, 14 year old boys aren’t typically “bubbly.” Kyle was bubbly and happy and very very impressed. Thought you’d like to know and mostly, thanks. We’ll see you bright and early tomorrow morning. – JI

   First –a HUGE thank you to you both for helping C over the years!  I think his report card speaks for itself – wow!  We are so proud of him.  We could have never done this without you all as part of our team.

   She is making SO MUCH progress and every time I read one of your process notes I get so excited.  You are simply amazing! What you’ve done for A will be with her for LIFE!! xoxo K

   Boy, it has been a long time coming to have him finally feeling successful in school.  He told T in the car the other night how nice it was to not be behind in classes.  He said he had many a sleepless night last year worrying about school. (I would have liked to have known that!)  Anyway, thank you all for helping us along the way.  You have been an incredible support system and I feel so very lucky to have found you.

  WOW! You have absolutely transformed my little J. He is feeling so good about himself, thank you for everything!!!! S

  Just wanted to let you know that K is doing great!  Made the honor roll this semester. Thank you for all of the help that you gave us over the last few years!!  You made a world of difference to K and me.  We could not have come this far without you!    Love P

  Found out today that M has been approved for extended time on the ACT! I simply cannot thank you both enough- if it weren’t for you two, we wouldn’t have a reading impairment diagnosis, we wouldn’t have a 504 Plan, and we wouldn’t have extended time. I hope you both know how much of a difference you have made for her (and that’s even without considering the incredible value of the tutoring!). We are so grateful for your help, your expertise and your engagement. See you soon! – AS

   S reads constantly now and we actually have to take the book away at times so she can get other things accomplished. THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!! I hope all is well with you. – JMM

   The staff at Holly Graves made a huge impact on our son’s well being. Through his tutoring sessions, they were able to spot his learning disorder, direct us to an outstanding resource for help, support our son’s academic needs through a tutoring plan and help to build his self esteem through academic successes. The impact of HGA’s staff has been tremendous: academic turnaround and growth coupled with confidence. We are very grateful to the staff at HGA for their skilled and caring efforts. Our son loved coming to HGA and we are happy to recommend the staff and services at Holly Graves and Associates.”  Mother of H.S. Sophomore

Dyslexia Basics

from The International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.

What causes dyslexia?

The exact causes of dyslexia are still not completely clear, but anatomical and brain imagery studies show differences in the way the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions. Moreover, most people with dyslexia have been found to have problems with identifying the separate speech sounds within a word and/or learning how letters represent those sounds, a key factor in their reading difficulties. Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or desire to learn; with appropriate teaching methods, dyslexics can learn successfully.

How Widespread is Dyslexia?

About 13–14% of the school population nationwide has a handicapping condition that qualifies them for special education. Current studies indicate that one-half of all the students who qualify for special education are classified as having a learning disability (LD) (6–7%). About 85% of those LD students have a primary learning disability in reading and language processing. Nevertheless, many more people—perhaps as many as 15–20% of the population as a whole—have some of the symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing, or mixing up similar words. Not all of these will qualify for special education, but they are likely to struggle with many aspects of academic learning and are likely to benefit from systematic, explicit, instruction in reading, writing, and language.

Dyslexia occurs in people of all backgrounds and intellectual levels. People who are very bright can be dyslexic. They are often capable or even gifted in areas that do not require strong language skills, such as art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales, and sports.

In addition, dyslexia runs in families; dyslexic parents are very likely to have children who are dyslexic. Some people are identified as dyslexic early in their lives, but for others, their dyslexia goes unidentified until they get older.

What are the Effects of Dyslexia?

 The impact that dyslexia has is different for each person and depends on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of instruction or remediation. The core difficulty is with word recognition and reading fluency, spelling, and writing. Some dyslexics manage to learn early reading and spelling tasks, especially with excellent instruction, but later experience their most debilitating problems when more complex language skills are required, such as grammar, understanding textbook material, and writing essays.

People with dyslexia can also have problems with spoken language, even after they have been exposed to good language models in their homes and good language instruction in school. They may find it difficult to express themselves clearly, or to fully comprehend what others mean when they speak. Such language problems are often difficult to recognize, but they can lead to major problems in school, in the workplace, and in relating to other people. The effects of dyslexia reach well beyond the classroom.

Evidence does not support what many take to be indicators or predictors of dyslexia, including clumsiness, fine motor problems, attention deficits, creativity, or handedness . . . read more 

– International Literacy Association 2016.



What is Dyslexia?

In simple terms, dyslexia is a problem that makes learning to read hard and makes reading in general an activity to avoid at all costs. Young children begin life excited at the prospect of learning how to read and write. For many children, going to kindergarten means they are going to learn to read. Some of these children are predisposed to dyslexia and are unknowingly at “high-risk” for developing reading failure. Dyslexia is found in very smart people who have achieved great things. There is an impressive list of high achievers with dyslexia.

Dylexia Basics

from The International Dyslexia Association®

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words .  Read more . . .

Learning to Read

Learning how to speak . . . is something all of us achieve, but not all of us learn how to read naturally and easily. Reading backwards, upside down or words jumping around on the page is not dyslexia. Wearing colored glasses or tracking activities for the eyes is not going to teach a person how to read. Our brains have to be able to work with the “sounds” of the language that we speak when we read. Yes, letters are something that we see when we read, but they are symbols for sound. Turning sounds into words is reading. Turning sounds into printed symbols for those sounds is spelling. For example:  Many people think we look at a word like was and remember it in our visual system as a neat little chunk of letters that says ‘wuz’. Not so. Our visual system sees the squiggles and sends the information to the back of our brain that wakes up and screams, “letters, meaningful information has come our way.” Within 150 to 250 milliseconds of seeing a word the visual processor has turned over the job to the “phonological-sounding out brain” to read it.  Read these words: ‘Reflicmuntional’ ‘Broumps’ How did you figure out the word? Didn’t you have to rely on your brain turning letters into sound? Unlocking the sound code of the English Language in a way that is effortless and unconscious is where good reading begins. Reading is not a skill that all of us naturally “do”. Some of the brightest individuals will have trouble learning how to read. Dyslexia is no longer a mystery and the ways in which children and adults are taught to read and overcome dyslexia is not “voodoo”. Explicit, systematic research-based methods to teach individuals the “code” of our language allows them to learn how to read efficiently and accurately.

Dyslexia is an Inherited Genetic Trait

Not all brains learn how to read as easily as other brains. Dsylexia is an inherited genetic trait and may or may not be “expressed” in an individual. A person may be predisposed or at “high risk” for experiencing dyslexia, but it is not entirely genetic. A combination of environmental exposure and genetic endowment are responsible for what kind of reader a child will ultimately become. Because dyslexia is inherited it runs in families and should be identified and treated as early as possible. Remember though it is never too late to learn how to read.

The probability of inheriting dyslexia is between 25 to 50 percent if a parent or a sibling is diagnosed with dyslexia. Often a parent has not been formally diagnosed with dyslexia, but comes to the realization once their child is diagnosed. If one sibling in a family is diagnosed, the chances are almost fifty percent that the other siblings will be diagnosed with dsylexia as well. Early, rich exposure to language and the quality of reading instruction plays an enormous role in a child’s reading success regardless of dyslexia.

The technical research definition for dyslexia is as follows:

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulities with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom intstruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

People with dyslexia have trouble spelling and rely heavily on their memories for both reading and writing. Many dyslexic people, especially those people who have a capacity to memorize words can “read”. The problem is they don’t read well and don’t like to read. If they don’t know the word already they have no way to figure out a new word. They are locked into a very inefficient visual memory system that breaks down whenever the phonological or sounding out system is needed to figure out how to “say” the new word.

Spelling difficulties and difficulty with reading comprehension are often secondary weaknesses that result from undiagnosed and untreated dyslexia. Not every person who is dyslexic is the same and each person recovers at their own rate and within their own ability. The earlier a person is treated the better the outcome.

Is My Child Dyslexic?

from The International Dyslexia Association®

Individuals with dyslexia have trouble with reading, writing, spelling and/or math even though they have the ability and have had opportunities to learn . . . read more about symptoms

Stress, Anxiety and Dyslexia

Anxiety comes in many forms. It can be situational (that is, specific to one kind or class of worry, like traveling or being in social situations). Individuals with dyslexia may experience stress and anxiety in situations in which they feel they will make mistakes, be ridiculed, or made to feel foolish in front of others.  Read more about stress, anxiety, and dyslexia . . .

Social and Emotional Problems and Dyslexia

from The International Dyslexia Association®

According to research done by Samuel T. Orton, MD,the majority of dyslexic preschoolers are happy and well adjusted. Their emotional problems begin to develop when early reading instruction does not match their learning style . . . read more about Social and Emotional problems

What is MultiSensory Teaching?

Multisensory teaching is one important aspect of instruction for dyslexic students that is used by clinically trained teachers. Effective instruction for students with dyslexia is also explicit, direct, cumulative, intensive, and focused on the structure of language. Read more about Multisensory Teaching

Understanding Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability that affects how easily children acquire written language and how well they use written language to express their thoughts . . . read more about Dysgraphia . . . 

What is the Best Method for Teaching Children with Dysgraphia?

As yet, there is no certifiably best method for teaching children who experience reading difficulty (Mathes et al., 2005). For instance,

research does not support the common belief that Orton-Gillingham–based approaches are necessary for students classified as dyslexic (Ritchey & Goeke, 2007; Turner, 2008; Vaughn & Linan-Thompson, 2003).

Reviews of research focusing solely on decoding interventions have shown either small to moderate or variable effects that rarely persist over time, and little to no effects on more global reading skills. Rather, students classified as dyslexic have varying strengths and challenges, and teaching them is too complex a task for a scripted, one-size-fits-all program (Coyne et al., 2013; Phillips & Smith, 1997; Simmons, 2015). Optimal instruction calls for teachers’ professional expertise and responsiveness, and for the freedom to act on the basis of that professionalism.  (International Literacy Association, Research Advisory: Dyslexia, 2016.  Read the full article . . . )