Dyslexia differs from other learning disabilities. These differences are highly specific and readily identifiable. In dyslexic readers, these neural systems function inefficiently – the signature of dyslexia. There may be other indicators, as well.
With early identification and timely intervention, affected individuals can live productive lives and accomplish great things. Even Nobel Prize-winning scientists, some of the greatest and most creative individuals, have overcome dyslexia.
Dr. Sally Shaywitz, one of the nation’s leading authorities on dyslexia, told a hearing of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, “The really good news is that science is there for those who are dyslexic. We have not a knowledge gap but an action gap.”
In order to close the action gap, we authored the Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act – the READ Act. After winning unanimous Congressional support, the READ Act was signed into law in February 2016. The new law directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to prioritize dyslexia research that supports action: “early identification of children and students with dyslexia, professional development for teachers and administrators of students with dyslexia, and curricula and educational tools needed for children with dyslexia.”
Thirty states now mandate early dyslexia screening. More teachers and school administrators are receiving special training to recognize dyslexia and deliver individualized instruction and support for affected students. More schools are implementing proven new teaching methods and learning tools. These successes are encouraging.
Nevertheless, millions of Americans with dyslexia remain undiagnosed and untreated. In thousands of public schools, children are not effectively screened. Even when a young student is identified as having dyslexia, many teachers do not have the training and learning support tools to deliver needed intensive reading skills intervention.
Further, undiagnosed dyslexia leads to heart-breaking problems. More than eight million of our schoolchildren are affected, according to estimates. Children with undiagnosed and untreated dyslexia have reading struggles that make learning in every subject more difficult. They are more likely to drop out of high school and half as likely to go to college.
As adults, individuals with untreated dyslexia face lifelong challenges and their reading difficulties are likely to be permanent. They have significantly lower lifetime earnings and much higher unemployment. They also experience higher rates of mental health issues and incarceration and lower life expectancy. Their children face substantial risks of the same problems. The accumulated costs of millions of cases of unfulfilled potential are an enormous burden and an ongoing tragedy that deserves our attention.
Last month, an NSF-supported conference about the READ Act brought together learning disability researchers from across the country. Information presented at the conference underscored the importance of timely, results-driven actions. Studies show that nearly three-quarters of children with dyslexia will attain their expected educational development if two practical actions are adopted in every school district: simple, standardized screening for reading difficulties among children in kindergarten and first grade, and explicit, comprehensive reading instruction for those who are identified as having dyslexia.
Changing the way we approach dyslexia will create opportunities for brighter, more productive futures for millions of young Americans. It also will help individuals follow in the footsteps of geniuses like Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple, who overcame dyslexia and achieved wonderful, helpful innovations for our country and humankind.
The READ Act was authored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and cosponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.). Chairman Smith and Rep. Brownley co-chair the bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus.
Maryland student reading performance is subpar -- 60% of students read below grade level -- that is 6 out of 10 students. 93% of special education students read below grade level (9 out of 10 students) and these students are not only capable of learning to read, they also supposedly receive "specially designed instruction" to get them to grade level proficiency.
Many Maryland school districts acknowledge that they have a problem with reading and writing literacy and are making changes to inservice teacher training, curricula choices and program purchases for reading. Other Maryland school districts deny there is a problem and continue to be happy with their students' poor reading performance and high rate of required college remedial reading coursework.
The Kirwan Commission -- an Effort to Change MD Education & Funding
Jeanne Brady Saum w/ Decoding Dyslexia MD waited her turn to speak at the 10/25 public meeting and was presenter 58/61. The microphone broke at speaker #56 but she persevered and spoke without a microphone at the end of a very long day. Her remarks are included here to ensure that she is heard. #saydyslexia #soallcanREAD
Pamela Guest, a state leader for Decoding Dyslexia Maryland, and her son Dayne, were recently featured in a documentary by APM Reports on dyslexia. The documentary features an in depth podcast on dyslexia and the problems parents and students face in Maryland public schools. Interviews are conducted with Baltimore County Public Schools officials and their responses to questions about dyslexia identification and interventions point to a change in efforts to help students with dyslexia in the school system.
Please listen to the podcast, read the articles and watch the videos. This is a very thorough evaluation of the problems and solutions that exist today. If you have a comment on the podcast or article, APM reports would like to hear from you. Links to all of the documentary parts are listed below.
APM Documentary on Dyslexia: Links to Podcast, Videos & Resources
The State of Reading & Dyslexia in Maryland
Reading & Dyslexia Policy Solutions
FREE EVENT, REGISTER HERE
Thursday, February 2, 2017 ~ Room 180 ~ Lowe House Office Building, Annapolis, Maryland
2016 was a year of solution finding for families and educators concerned about access to effective instruction for dyslexia and reading. The “Task Force to Implement a Dyslexia Education Program in Maryland” completed its recommendations and provided a report to the Maryland General Assembly and the Governor. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) developed a Technical Assistance Bulletin on Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) with a focus on dyslexia to help facilitate and implement effective instruction for students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia.
But we must do more. Join us to learn about dyslexia and reading solutions that will narrow the reading and writing achievement gap in Maryland. Many students with average to above average intelligence have trouble learning to read, write and/or spell in Maryland public schools. The 2016 Maryland state assessment (PARCC) for 4th grade students shows that 91% of special education, 77% of African American, 98% of limited English proficiency and 79% of students in poverty are not on grade level for reading and writing. Maryland can change this outcome with your help.
Dyslexia Advocacy Day 2017
8:00 - 9:00am -- Community Partner Open House
8:00am -- Delegate Al Carr, Montgomery County, Welcome Message
9:00 - 9:20am -- Lisa Blottenberger: Decoding Dyslexia Maryland: The Science of Reading: How to Help Struggling Readers Thrive!
9:20 - 9:35am -- Dr. Joan Mele-McCarthy: Chair, Task Force to Implement a Dyslexia Education Program in MD: Best Practices to Serve Students with Dyslexia in Maryland: Task Force Update
9:35 - 9:45am -- Delegate Anne Kaiser: Chair, House Education Subcommittee, D-Montgomery
What Legislators Need to Know About Dyslexia & Reading
9:45 - 10:00am -- Marcella Franczkowski: Assistant State Superintendent, Special Education & Early Intervention Services, MSDE: Newly Released Technical Assistance Bulletin Drives Identification and Instruction for Students with Disabilities & Dyslexia
10:00 - 10:10am -- Susie Fowler: Director of Special Education, St. Mary's County: Practical Advice on How to Implement the Dyslexia Technical Assistance Bulletin
10:10 - 10:20am -- Rick Smith, CEO, International Dyslexia Association: How Revisions to University Accreditation on Reading will Improve Student Learning
10:20 - 10:30am -- Laura Schultz: Decoding Dyslexia Maryland: ACT-vocate for Dyslexia
10:30 - 11:45am -- BREAK -- Pre-scheduled individual/group legislator meetings
12:00 - 1:00pm -- Panel Discussion (see below)
Lunch & Panel Discussion: Reading & Dyslexia Policy Solutions
12:00 - 1:00pm
PANELISTS -- Moderator: Karleen Spitulnik, Decoding Dyslexia MD, State Leader
1:00 - 4:00pm -- Pre-scheduled legislator meetings
Downloadable Advocacy Day Flyer, 3-color, Legislator Invite
Downloadable Dyslexia Advocacy Day Panel, Multi-color Legislator Invite
Downloadable Advocacy Day Flyer, Public Flyer Invite
Downloadable Advocacy Day Program, 2017
MD Dept. of Education Says Dyslexia -- Issues Technical Assistance Bulletin to Help Schools Identify & Support Students
- Defines dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia (p. 5, Definitions)
- Early Screening: Clarifies that MD Public Schools do NOT screen for dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, but acknowledges that early screening is a best practice (p.6, Identification, Do Maryland Public Schools screen all students for these conditions?)
- Identification of dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia: provides information on who can identify these conditions both within and outside the school system. Within the school system a school psychologist, speech language pathologist and reading specialist are named as qualified to identify dyslexia (p. 6, Identification, Who can identify one of these conditions?)
- The IEP and Dyslexia: Clarifies that dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia can be referenced in the IEP to address the student’s needs resulting from that disability; further clarifies that the IEP should include information about the disability and how it relates to eligibility, educational needs, and specially designed instruction to address dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia (p. 7, Can these conditions be referenced in a student’s IEP?)
- Lists general problems experienced by students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia (p. 7-8, Instruction)
- Instruction: Acknowledges that dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia may impact achievement across academic content and explains that ALL students should be provided evidence based practices and interventions “matched to their identified area of need.”
- Progress Monitoring: clarifies that general education students who receive interventions for reading, writing and/or math and who are not achieving adequately may require more intense specially designed instruction and should be evaluated for an IEP. (p. 8, Instruction: How do I know if one of these conditions requires specially designed instruction?)
- Dyslexia Assessments: Lists assessments (universal screeners) known to identify dyslexia including Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) and Rapid Automatized Spelling (RAS) (p. 9, Instruction)
- Specially Designed Instruction: Delineates the elements and principles of Structured Literacy, “a highly recommended approach” to address dyslexia. The elements of structured literacy include phonology, sound-symbol association, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax and semantics and is taught in an explicit, systematic, cumulative and diagnostic way (p. 10, Instruction, What might specially designed instruction look like?).
Dyslexia Technical Assistance Bulletin (TAB), Maryland State Department of Education, November 2016
DDMD Summary of MSDE Dyslexia TAB (coming soon)
Federal Department of Education Dyslexia Guidance Letter, October 2015
DDMD Summary of Federal DOE Guidance
DDMD Dyslexia TAB Press Release (coming soon)
Maryland Reading Scores, 2015 and 2016
Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia
Maryland Technical Assistance Bulletin, November 16, 2016
At a literacy convention recently, Decoding Dyslexia Maryland was asked by a group of teachers: "where can we find training? What can we do on Monday to help our kids?" Teachers also wondered why they didn't learned how to teach kids with dyslexia in their college reading courses. Where to find training just became a whole lot easier for teachers -- here are some options:
Dyslexia Educator Training in Maryland:
- The Center for Effective Reading Instruction: There is a new training and professional development opportunity available for schools, teachers, districts and states to ensure all teachers are up to speed on dyslexia and reading disabilities -- it's called the CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE READING INSTRUCTION (CERI). CERI is located in Baltimore and offers an array of training and certification levels for interested students and teachers. CERI also accredits university education programs: LINK HERE
- The Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center: ASDEC's graduate-level training in structured multisensory language instruction enables teachers, tutors, parents and other educators to teach success to students with even the most severe learning disabilities. For educators interested in learning more about dyslexia and how to work with students with language learning disabilities, a new option for this summer will be taught by Sandra Thompson, QI, CALT author of Language Foundations who will present this Orton-Gillingham Structured Literacy Curriculum in Rockville. This course prepares candidates for certification as Academic Language Practitioners (aka Licensed Dyslexia Practitioners).
- Orton-Gillingham Training, by bowman educational services (Fran Bowman): Offers training courses throughout the summer for educators who would like to learn about the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling.
When teachers learn the structure of the English language and how to teach struggling readers, they can and will make a difference for students. 63% of Maryland students read below proficient -- it's time to change the way we teach reading, writing and spelling so we can reach all our students and narrow the reading gap in Maryland.
SOMEDAY SOON, THE STORY BELOW WILL BE CONSIDERED "THE OLD WAY"
The following summary is from the Wright's Law web site, a rich resource for parents and teachers of students with special needs. Below is an excerpt from the website that explains a legal case where the child had dyslexia and the parents removed him from school and won reimbursement because the IEP was too generic and did not meet the child's individual needs.
Alex Gerstmyer v. Howard County Public Schools
"After the Supreme Court issued the decision in Carter, an interesting case arose in Columbia, Maryland. This case involved Alex Gerstmyer, a 6 year old child who also had dyslexia. Although Alex had "red flag" problems in Kindergarten, the staff at Alex’s school waited before testing him—they thought that he might "grow out of his problems."
When Alex began first grade, he had still not been evaluated. There was no IEP in place for him. Alex quickly realized that he was different from the other children—he was not learning how to read. At home, he was distraught and said that he was "stupid." His alarmed parents had him evaluated by a private sector psychologist—this testing confirmed that Alex had dyslexia.
Later in the Fall, the public school did propose an IEP. The parents felt that the IEP was vague and did not provide Alex with the help he needed to overcome his dyslexia. Alex was becoming more upset by the day—saying that he was stupid and didn’t want to live. Presented with an inadequate IEP for their son, his parents removed him from the public school program and placed him into a Montessori school (non- special education school) and asked for tuition assistance. (Gerstmyer v. Howard County Public Schools, 850 F. Supp. 361, 20 IDELR 1327 (D. MD 1994)
In his decision, Judge Motz described the public school IEP as ". . . nothing more than a collection of forms prepared for other students stating only general goals and not at all tailored to Alex’s special needs."
Because the IEP was not tailored to Alex’s unique needs as a child with dyslexia, Judge Motz awarded Alex’ parents reimbursement for their son’s education at the Montessori school."
You can find Maryland legal information here:
State Complaint Letters of Finding
Fiscal Year 2016
Fiscal Year 2015
Fiscal Year 2014
Fiscal Year 2013
Due Process Hearing Decisions, and End-of-Year Hearing and Mediation Outcome Reports by Public Agency
Fiscal Year 2016
Fiscal Year 2015
Fiscal Year 2014
Fiscal Year 2013