The research indicates that approximately 12% of K-3 students are dyslexic. At least 30% of K-3 children, according to the NAEP test, lack even basic reading proficiency. These numbers tell an important story -- not every student who lacks reading skills is dyslexic.
In fact, the basic idea of a dyslexia screener, distinct and different from a general reading proficiency test, assumes that simply ascertaining overall mastery is not the right way to assess dyslexia risk.
Amira's screener for dyslexia follows the best practices established in the research for identifying risk. Several of the key tasks are highly correlated with dyslexia risk but not measures of reading mastery. For example, Rapid Automatic Naming of numbers assesses processing speed and proficiency. Students who cannot yet read can still evidence good processing speeds. And, some children who may have attained some degree of reading mastery may evidence signs of dyslexia risk on this task. The whole point of RAN, and the reason it is so predictive, is that it separates the signal of dyslexia from current levels of reading skill.
Many students today are English Language Learners, coming to English reading from the perspective of speaking a different language at home. Naturally, these students, lacking exposure to English speaking and reading, may not yet be proficient readers. This does not mean they are dyslexic, and flagging them purely as a function of reading mastery is wrong.
Amira's national flag rates are around 15%. This reflects the goal of identifying every dyslexic student but not over-flagging. A test which simply identifies the lowest quintile of readers is not doing the job of assessing dyslexia risk and is significantly over-flagging.
In summary, a low DRI score associated with a student who is a striving or pre reader is not an inconsistency.