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Good news for children with dyslexia. And really, all students. And teachers.

posted Aug 13, 2015, 11:30 AM by Diane Willcutts   [ updated Aug 13, 2015, 12:31 PM ]
As of January 1, 2015, Page 1 of Connecticut's IEP form includes a new disability subcategory:  "specific learning disabilities/dyslexia."  This is due to a law that went into effect on January 1, 2015.  (Attached below.)

So why are so many people excited about a new box on the IEP?  This is just paperwork, right?  

Except now school districts are much more focused on understanding and meeting the needs of students dyslexia, a disability that impacts about 20% of the population.  More teachers are seeking professional development related to dyslexia.  And more districts are now willing to provide peer-reviewed-research-based instruction by qualified individuals who have been trained in the science of reading.

In the past, parents would hear, "We can't assess for dyslexia.  That's a medical diagnosis."  "We can't list dyslexia in the IEP."  As a result, too many students' needs went unidentified and too many IEPs did not include effective, peer-reviewed-research-based reading instruction that was effective in remediating students with dyslexia.  Or even when the IEP did include the right goals and the right curriculum, the IEP was often being implemented by teachers who had only a few days of training in effective programs--vs. the months or even years of training and, critically important, the extensive supervised practicum experience that is needed.  Students with dyslexia typically continued (continue) to read at a level a year or more below their peers, even though research says that most students are capable of remediation and capable of closing the gap.  But our teachers didn't (don't) know that and have said things like, "Of course, students with learning disabilities are functioning below grade level.  They have learning disabilities."  Unfairly lowering expectations and denying students with dyslexia equal access to education.

I'm not blaming teachers.  Teachers want to be effective, teaching all kids to read on grade level.  I do blame (most) colleges and universities for not providing teachers with instruction on the science of reading.  Schools of Education have failed to teach teachers to assess and to remediate students with dyslexia.  And quite frankly, most teachers have never been trained to teach reading even to garden-variety child.   (OK, that's another rant for another day.)   Most teachers that I have met welcome the opportunity to learn to effectively teach reading to every child.

We are also very lucky that another law passed this past session (attached to this post) that also requires that schools of education provide at least 12 clock hours of instruction related to dyslexia for teachers pursuing certification.  (12 hours is not enough, but it is way better than 0 hours.)  And Connecticut now has a definition of dyslexia (attached), which is also referenced in that law.

The especially good news is that, if teachers can teach students with dyslexia to read, they can teach almost anyone to read.  Connecticut is on the right track.
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Diane Willcutts,
Aug 13, 2015, 11:30 AM
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Diane Willcutts,
Aug 13, 2015, 11:30 AM
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Diane Willcutts,
Aug 13, 2015, 11:30 AM
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