Multitudes UCSF Dyslexia Center Screening and Early Intervention Pilot Program


Dr. Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini







Professor in Residence UCSF



Phaedra Bell, Program Manager
Kristin Scheel, Field Research Coordinator


The research aims to validate a longitudinal reading assessment which is more efficient and accurate than current contemporary screening assessments, for the diverse population of California. The assessment screener will use literacy/language measures developed by MIT and FSU and other assessments developed by UCSF, integrating them into a combined series with a shared new design and features.


This project aims to better identify students at high risk of dyslexia by piloting a dyslexia screening and early intervention application to be used in public elementary schools in California. We seek a representative sample of students across the state, to create a more universal tool and adaptive assessment that serves children from unique communities. We will validate our screener with assessments which are commonly used to elaborate a child's learning profile, predict future reading and language challenges and inform interventions and support. Ultimately, the screener will become part of a larger integrated assessment and intervention platform with an ability to provide curriculum support, train educators on potential educational interventions and collect and organize data for reporting on outcomes.


1. To Develop an electronic app for in-home and classroom screening for reading difficulties.
2. To conduct preliminary validation of the application against existing neuropsychological tests.
3. To conduct usability testing on our novel screening application.


The goal of the Screener is to enable seamless, accurate, adaptive and scalable dyslexia screening to inform educators on the delivery of evidence based reading intervention. Over identification by current screeners leads to children receiving unnecessary, costly intervention and to a reduction in limited resources available to students who truly need intensive reading intervention. Particularly concerning is that children from lower social economic communities and who are non native English speakers are incorrectly identified as at risk of dyslexia.The best way to improve the precision of current screening methods is to broaden the domains of measurement to better interpret a child's performance on reading skills tests. We hope that the Multitudes assessment works towards educational equity, by broadly supporting literacy in all communities, using resources effectively, and helping all students thrive.


California Dyslexia Initiative, Accessed 7 January 2022.




All ECII children are eligible. Project extended 2022-23 school year to follow the same students into Primary I.


The Multitudes screener will be given on ipads, by UCSF trained proctors over at least two time points. The assessment consists of a series of word, sound, letter and picture identification games. The assessment will be validated using pen and paper or digital versions of Kaufman Tests of Educational Achievement subtests in letter/word reading and nonword reading.

In every assessment task a child is given two or three practice items before beginning. Each task is a few minutes in length and adapts in complexity or options, as the child then answers. These assessment/games may include:

Letter Naming: In this task, a child identifies letters and letter sounds. This task measures letter recognition and will be validated by a letter naming subtest of the commonly used standard assessment, the KTEA (Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement)
Deletion: In this task a child listens to a word and is asked to remove part of the word. This task measures a child's awareness of word parts and sounds.
Expressive Vocabulary: In this task a child names an object in a picture, i.e. "umbrella". This task measures language acquisition within a local context.
Nonword Repetition: In this task, a child hears made-up words of varying syllables and repeats them. This dynamic assessment measures speech perception and short term memory.
Rapid Automatic Naming: In this task a child names familiar objects and letters as they appear in a timed session. The task measures fluency as well as reading preparation.
Blending: Like deletion, this task measures phonological awareness. Blending tasks ask a child to put two words or word sounds together to make one word.
Sentence Repetition: In this task a child listens to sentences and repeats them. The examiner notes any changes, missing words, insertions and substitutions.
Listening Comprehension: In this task a child hears a sentence of adapting complexity, and chooses the corresponding image from a selection of four images.
Receptive Vocabulary: In this task a child hears a word and chooses a picture which corresponds with the image. This task measures comprehension and fluency.
Digit Span: In this task a child hears a series of four numbers and repeats them in the order in which they hear it. As in sentence repetition, this task measures verbal short term memory.

There is an accompanying parent questionnaire, attached, which includes questions about a child's home language environment, years of preschool experience, and parent observations of changes or challenges due to the ongoing pandemic. The survey will be matched with and inform de-identified results and will help document our representative sample of California communities.

The number and type and methods of assessments included in the screener indicate specific areas of strength and concern for a child learning to read.


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Electronic tablet (Ipads)


The screener is located and administered using ipads in proctor/student sets. The test is adaptive, requiring reliable internet/wifi connection via local network or hotspots provided by UCSF.


The goal of the screener project is to make screening more accurate, efficient, and available in adaptive, digital format.


There is a parent information and opt out letter provided, as per IRB. The accompanying parent survey on home language environment comes with consent form and information sheet attached.


There are no significant risks to the participants from the cognitive tests/tablet app. We will allow the children to discontinue at any time, or take breaks as needed during the protocol and we encourage them to ask questions. We have minimized confidentiality risks by assuring that data is de-identified before sharing with research collaborators. Identify will not be revealed in any reports or publications resulting from this study.




All HPI is stored securely and de-identified. Participants are given unique identifiers, and only de identified data is shared with research partners.



The Dyslexia Centers of UCSF and UCLA are literacy allies. Maryanne Wolf helped connect Mulitudes team to the Lab School through Dean Christie. UCSF Multitudes Program Manager Phaedra Bell met with Assistant Director Sandra Smith, in December 2021 and shared our MOU, and again on January 7th.


UCLA Lab school would host Multitudes project, and UCSF proctors will administer screening.


UCSF coordinators will communicate with UCLA lab school representative, Sandra Smith, or delegate, for communication with teachers, rostering, and to arrange space for proctoring.



ELPAC data scores requested. There are no English learners currently.


As per conversations with UCLA Lab School, assessment game times will be limited to thirty minutes per session per child, and may take place over two days. In practice the two game sessions should be about twenty minutes each.








Active Expedited -No Continuing Review


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