Literacy rates in the United States indicate that millions of children are silently slipping through the cracks: Based on the most recent pre-pandemic National Assessment of Educational Progress only 35% of 4th graders and 34% of 8th graders read at a level considered proficient or above, with even more distressing statistics for Black, Hispanic, and low-income students (NAEP Reading 2019 Highlights, 2020). Best estimates approximate that about 10-15% of children have persistent struggles with reading due to dyslexia (Fletcher et al., 2006; Shaywitz et al., 1992), and an additional 50% of students are not receiving the reading support they need to achieve proficiency. Because students are not systematically screened for foundational reading skills across the grades, the vast majority of these children are never identified and don’t receive the targeted support they need to reach their potential. We envision a state-of-the-art, universally accessible, unintrusive screener that can probe decoding issues across the grades, identify students’ strengths and areas for growth, and empower schools to respond with targeted interventions that meet the needs of every learner.
Associate Professor, Stanford University, Graduate School of Education and Department of Psychology; Stanford School of Medicine, Division Developmental Behavioral PediatricsDr. Yeatman completed his PhD in Psychology at Stanford where he studied the neurobiology of literacy and developed new brain imaging methods for studying the relationship between brain plasticity and learning. After finishing his PhD, he took a faculty position at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences before returning to Stanford. As the director of the Brain Development and Education Lab, the overarching goal of his research is to understand the mechanisms that underlie the process of learning to read, how these mechanisms differ in children with dyslexia, and to design literacy intervention programs that are effective across the wide spectrum of learning differences. His lab employs a collection of structural and functional neuroimaging measurements to study how a child’s experience with reading instruction shapes the development of brain circuits that are specialized for this unique cognitive function.