Kindergarteners work together during a reading intervention session Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in Katie Hoiland's kindergarten classroom at Aragon Elementary in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

By Melanie Asmar and Ann Schimke, Chalkbeat Colorado

The Denver school district will pilot a screener for dyslexia this fall after years of public outcry from frustrated parents, recommendations by school district working groups, and a delay caused by the pandemic.

And Denver’s pilot isn’t the only one. The Boulder Valley School District launched a dyslexia screening pilot at 10 schools last fall that has already screened 345 kindergarteners.

A state pilot program may also launch in the coming months, but a dearth of applicants makes its fate uncertain.

Colorado education officials were set to select five elementary schools for the one-year, $92,000 pilot program in late April. By the application deadline Friday, just five schools had applied, and state education officials are still determining if they all meet participation requirements.

New dyslexia screening efforts in Denver and Boulder — plus the possible state pilot — come amid a nationwide push to boost reading achievement, including by paying closer attention to students with reading-related disabilities. Experts estimate that dyslexia affects 5% to 15% of the population. In Colorado, that could be more than 100,000 school-age children.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that impairs reading. People with dyslexia have difficulty identifying speech sounds, decoding words, and spelling them.