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Northern Virginia Good Schools for Dyslexia / Learning Difficulties?


3819Lee March 11, 2009

Hi, My wife and I are moving with our children to northern Virginia. We have two elementary-age boys who apparently have dyslexia and/or ADD. We probably want them to attend public schools. We are very familiar with the area. As I will work in DC, we would prefer not to live outside the beltway (although Fairfax City would be fine). Does anyone have recommendations? Falls Church City Public Schools are a good bet? What about Arlington? Or McLean? Is anyone familiar with Daniels Run School in Fairfax City on this point?

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healthy11 March 11, 2009

Unfortunately, Greatschools is a nationwide forum, and the chance of finding a family from a specific area, who have children with similar needs, is slim. I'd advise you to try and contact a local support organization (see if has a chapter nearby) and network through those parents to find out about the best schools and other local resources.

I'm not from VA, but my son has ADHD and dyslexia, and I've found Chadd parents to be very helpful. For online support, I'd also like to invite you to join the Learning and Attention Difficulties Group at


AuntCharlotte March 23, 2009

Unfortunately the area is not very good with dealing with reading/writing issues like dyslexia - unless they are in the mild to moderate range - and in a few specific schools. It is much better handling kids on the Spectrum and with ADD or ADHD.

There are several private school in the area that are dedicated to serviing the mild to moderate LD population. There is only one that accepts childrenin the moderate to sever range at it is extremely limited in the number of children that they accept (they only have twelve students in each grade and they are already there, plus they try to maintain a diverse population in regards to sex, disability, degree of disability, and ethnic background. It is also extremely expensive)

Depending on where you are coming from, you maybe shocked that such nationally ranked school systems are so far behind in the LD areas.

I have a 4th grader with severe reading/writing dyslexia in one of the areas you mentioned and I have had to be an extremely active participant in his IEP meetings as well as being the one who found out about things like RFBD.


3819Lee March 23, 2009

Aunt Charlotte,

Thanks very much!



Is the private school you refer to either Oakmont or Lab School? My wife was interested in those, but they ARE expensive, and I'm not sure that our boys have severe enough problems to justify that.

My wife has also suggested purposely seeking out a Title One school, figuring it would have more help with reading. Do you have an opinion on that strategy? I a little bit worry about the phenonmenon of uninvolved parents, single-parents, apathy, and then being fed into middle and high schools that might have drug or gang problems. On the other hand, maybe it would be a more mellow, less competitive environment where our boys could thrive. (They were crushed at their former, very-competitive school, by children calling them "Stupid" and "slow poke", etc.)

I have a sense that Falls Church City schools might be very good for this kind of thing, but also have a worry that it could be some hyper-competitive school where they might feel stressed out and crunched down. Any thoughts on that?


AuntCharlotte March 23, 2009

I was referring to the Lab School. The other problem I had with it was that my son is a math and science kid and does not like the arts very much and that is what they are all about. It was not a good fit. They usually have only one or two openings for each grade each year and receive hundreds of applications. There is very little endowment and the true cost would have been in the low $40k range. I haven't found any other school that accepts kids in the severe range in this area. There are many that cater to the mild to moderate.

I have heard that going to a Title one school is one way to make sure there are teachers with reading remediation expertise, but at least in Fairfax County, I have found that they generally do not teach Orton Gillingham type programs. But neither does Falls Church or Arlington. There are very few reading instructors with Wilson training and certification (none that I know of in Arlington, a few in Fairfax County). If your children are in the mild to moderate range, they may be well served by the program that seems to be most favored but is not a reviewed (except anecdotally) or rated program (Cognitive Reading Strategies). It was developed by a local teacher and is not intended for the moderate to severe range children.

There are Title One schools that feed into Middle and High schools that do not have gang/drug problems (although every HS seems to have a few kids with drug problems). For example, one of the elementary school that feeds into the McLean Pyramid is a Title I, one of the elementary schools that feeds into the Madison pyramid is treated as a Title I for its non-GT center students. They tend to have about 4x the number of reading specialists assigned to the school than a non Title I school. In my opinion, there isn't any High school in the area that isn't highly competitive. Some are more so than others, though.

Sorry, Spectrum refers to kids on the Autism spectrum and RFBD is the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic where you can get free recorded audio books- including textbooks.


evanfamily January 27, 2011

both of my girls have dyslexia. My oldest did not qualify for services so she sees a tutor 3 x week. My younger daughter did quailify for services. She is getting 1 on 1 help 5 x week for 45 minutes. Her teacher is trained in Spire. She has made tremendous progress this year. Both children attend Seldens Landing which is in Loudoun County. The principal has been very supportive and made a concerted effort in bring in 2 highly trained og specialist. Hope this helps. Beware of Reading Recovery. It is a whole language approach to reading and does nothing for the dyslexic student.


fishyfink February 7, 2011

My brother attended Lab School and our family had a great experience!


lisabeth100 February 26, 2011

3819Lee - Did you find a good school in the Northern VA area? I am in the same siutation now with my elementary-aged girl and would like to know what you found in VA.


Geo1999 September 2, 2011

evanfamily, I am just researching the dyslexia issue for my 7yr old. Question, did you have your children evaluated/assessed by the Loudoun County School system as your first step, or had your kids evaluated by a private analyst? I have 2 kids in another elem school in Leesburg. I am hesitant to go to the County first as I do not know if they identify dyslexia vs other reading issues during their assessments. I am so glad to read that your principal brought in OG specialists. Did that happen before or after your children were assessed? Did you hire your own tutor for your child that didn't qualify for services? I am new to this, so I'm trying to get a little advice on the process. My gut tells me that my daughter is mild/moderately dyslexic, not severely. From what I've heard, the County usually doesn't qualify kids unless they are on the more severe end of things. I don't know if that is hearsay or not. Any comments/advice is appreciated.


moopie October 20, 2011

Geo1999 - I have a child in LCPS and last year (when she was in 2ed grade) we went through the testing process. I thought she was dyslexic but they diagnosed her with "Specific Learning Disablity" due to poor reading comprehension and fluency skills. I was told her decoding ability was too strong to be Dyslexia. She was able to qualify for services though. My advice is to be VERY persistant with the school. If you request testing in writing they have to meet and at least do a child study. It took all of first and second grades to get through child study, the testing process and eventually put together her IEP. The process has been slow but at least we finally have the schools support. The other thing that I would recommend looking into is a Wilson Reading tutor and possibly Vision Therapy. There is a VT center in Asburn.


user5309803 September 29, 2013

I have a fourth grader that I think has dyslexia and I need to get her tested. Any suggestions in the ashburn area? Thank you

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