Parent Position Applications Accepted through November 16, 2019
Applications are now available for Maryland residents interested in serving as a designated parent member on the State Board of Education, as vetted through Maryland PTA. Maryland PTA is excited to be a part of this process as we are the second state in the nation to have such an honor; the first being Massachusetts PTA.
Maryland PTA also recognizes that not all parent advocates work through local, council or the state PTA. Hence, parents who are not members of PTA are encouraged to apply as well. Furthermore, we also encourage new parents of public school students who are in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten to apply.
In addition to the vetting process, all persons seeking to serve on a state Board must also apply via the Governor's Appointments Office at https://govappointments.maryland.gov/ and https://govapps.md.gov/appointments/apply/
Applicants must fill out the MDPTA application for nomination posted below.
Maryland Advocates Changing Reading Instruction One District at a Time
Elizabeth Hembling, Decoding Dyslexia Maryland, thanks the Baltimore County Board of Education and BCPS administrators for providing professional learning in cognitive reading science and dyslexia interventions.
Baltimore County Public Schools is filling educator knowledge gap left open by colleges of education -- BCPS provides 60 hours of course work in the Orton Gillingham approach for hundreds of educators and the opportunity to attend Notre Dame of Maryland University Dyslexia Certificate Program. The district also is boosting teacher knowledge and practice in the essential components of reading instruction by providing coursework in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). Ms. Hembling asks that the Board of Education support the pending contract for additional LETRS training in the district. Jump to 35:27.
Decoding Dyslexia Maryland and The Reading League Announce Alliance to Boost Maryland's Use of Evidence Aligned Reading Instruction
Decoding Dyslexia Maryland and The Reading League Announce Alliance
Decoding Dyslexia Maryland and The Reading League are partnering to boost the use of evidence aligned reading instruction in Maryland public schools.
The Kirwan Commission and the State of Maryland will release $312 million over the next 5 years to provide reading screening and interventions to struggling readers. Although there are many reasons students struggle to learn to read, one important factor is instruction that is not aligned to the science of reading. A recent podcast and national conversation on reading called "Hard Words: Why Aren't Kids Being Taught to Read" documents the problem.
Both organizations plan to provide educators with opportunities to improve student outcomes through evidence aligned reading instruction and interventions. #knowbetterdobetter #soallcanread
Full Text of Press Release: DDMD and Reading League Alliance
Contact: Laura Schultz
Contact: Toni Ann Walsh
Decoding Dyslexia Maryland and The Reading League Announce Alliance
Reading advocates & educators set to boost the use of evidence aligned reading instruction in Maryland public schools
July 9, 2019, Baltimore, Maryland. Decoding Dyslexia Maryland (DDMD) and The Reading League (TRL) announced today they have formalized their strong relationship and are now Alliance Partners. DDMD and TRL share a mission to raise awareness about reading difficulties and increase the use and understanding of science-based reading instruction. By partnering, the two organizations can help provide teachers and school administrators with access to evidence-aligned reading practices so all students have the opportunity to learn to read.
Decoding Dyslexia has raised awareness of the importance of effective reading instruction and The Reading Leagueworks with educators to boost their knowledge and skills to fulfill that mission. “The decision to ally with The Reading League underscores Decoding Dyslexia Maryland’s commitment to closing the reading gap in Maryland,” said Karleen Spitulnik, Decoding Dyslexia Maryland State Leader. “Too many school districts use instruction and curriculum that is not based on the science of how students learn to read -- more than half of all Maryland students struggle with reading,” she continued. The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, or the “Kirwan Commission,” acknowledged the gap in reading skills when they funded the $312 million “Transitional Supplemental Instruction” program where each school district is required to provide supplemental reading instruction to students who read below grade level.
The Reading League produces relevant, accessible literacy content for educators, created by some of the top literacy experts in the country. “We feel it is imperative that DDMD help connect educators in Maryland with the extensive knowledge base offered by TRL to bridge the knowledge and practice gap in literacy instruction for educators,” said Dr. Maria Murray, Founder and CEO of The Reading League (TRL).
“The Reading League is comprised of a diverse group of professionals and advocates, all committed to improving educator knowledge of reading instruction in order to improve reading outcomes for children and adults,” explained Dr. Murray. “As a result of decades of research from a number of fields, we have the knowledge and practice needed to teach reading to educators. Decoding Dyslexia chapters like Maryland are a perfect example of the professionals who are extending the reach of evidence aligned best practices for reading into each classroom.”
About Decoding Dyslexia Maryland
Decoding Dyslexia Maryland (DDMD) is a grassroots movement driven by Maryland parents, educators and students concerned about reading instruction and interventions for all students, including those with dyslexia, in Maryland Public Schools. 3 minute video that includes parent, student, expert and educator reflections on the Ready to Read Act
About The Reading League
The Reading League is a non-profit organization that offers innovative and meaningful professional development to thousands of educators through bimonthly Live Events, and through an annual conference that features reading experts from across the US and around the globe. TRL also partners with individual schools and districts to disseminate research findings on approaches to teaching reading that achieve maximum instructional impact, and provide school-based coaches to support educators in order to refine literacy practices. For more information contact: Dr. Maria Murray, CEO of TRL at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join TRL for free by visitinghttp://www.thereadingleague.org, or like TRL’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thereadingleague
A letter IN FAVOR of the Ready to Read Act – SB 734
By Tamara L. Karwacki
March 10, 2019
Dear Members of the Maryland Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee:
Very few schools use the appropriate balance of literacy components to teach reading, which is what is inherently wrong with the term "Balanced Literacy." If reading teachers, and especially special educators, are not given the support and tools they need to teach any one of the literacy components they are supposed to balance, that is unbalanced literacy.
By Marilyn Zecher, former secondary school classroom teacher, Prince George's County Public Schools, Maryland and Certified Academic Language Therapist
The opinion piece in The Washington Post on the Reading Wars gets a lot right; but some practitioners of “balanced” literacy get some things wrong. (Also see the comment section of the article.)
"There is also a distinct and fiery kind of resilience and fortitude that is born from such experiences. That is what I witnessed in the moments after Decoding Dyslexia MD’s bill was deemed dead—I saw a community ignited."
Observations on the Legislative Process
By Stacy Brocker, State Leader, Decoding Dyslexia MD, Howard County
George Orwell said, “Myths which are believed in tend to become true.” The philosophy many seem to subconsciously embrace is, “Myths which are believed in are true.” This may be why there was some resistance to HB 910, the Reading Screening & Interventions bill, during the recent Maryland General Assembly session. There are a myriad of myths surrounding struggling readers and dyslexia, and dyslexia advocates work tirelessly to dispel these myths and put reading research into the hands of policy makers and teachers.
Decoding Dyslexia Maryland (DDMD) is a grassroots organization of parents, teachers, students and community partners founded in early 2013. Volunteers donate their time and resources to fight for every child’s right to read and are bolstered by the advocacy of students, teachers, psychologists, private school leaders and research scientists who care about reading and who are frustrated by education systems that use programs and practices that are not based on the science of reading (20 U.S. Code § 6368 - Definitions).
Currently, at least 38 states have one or more dyslexia laws while 19 states have comprehensive dyslexia laws. These comprehensive laws include mandates for early reading and dyslexia screening as well as intervention, structured literacy teacher training for both pre-service and inservice teachers, a definition of dyslexia, and accommodations for dyslexia. Only a handful of states do not have any requirements for addressing dyslexia: Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Massachusetts and the Dakotas (https://improvingliteracy.org/state-of-dyslexia).
Decoding Dyslexia members pour over research about reading and dyslexia and often educate their local Boards of Education, Superintendents, administrators, and teachers meeting by meeting...by meeting. The numbers of students in need of support is growing. Research statistics show that dyslexia affects up to 17% of all students and many more struggle to learn to read in our public schools. Decoding Dyslexia is increasingly leading the charge to support parents in their efforts to learn about dyslexia, to gather research and data to support effective instruction, and to advocate for systemwide policy change for early screening and interventions that help all students.
On May 12, 2015, the Maryland General Assembly and Governor Larry Hogan enacted HB 278 to authorize a Task Force to Study the Implementation of a Dyslexia Education Program in Maryland. The Task Force was established in response to parent, teacher, and student testimony that reading difficulties and dyslexia were not adequately addressed by public schools in Maryland. This massive undertaking resulted in a 135 page in depth report that includes a remarkable amount of scientific data, expert testimony, and current practices from school districts and other states.
The report included six detailed recommendations that could be implemented and measured in a six year Reading and Dyslexia Pilot Program for Kindergarten, first and second grade students. The Pilot included a summer reading institute for teachers and mentors and an itemized fiscal note. Unfortunately, at the close of the 2017 legislative session, the recommendations in the Task Force Report remained unaddressed.
This year, Decoding Dyslexia MD, to which I and my daughter proudly belong, focused its legislative efforts on accomplishing something the current public school system has not been able to do: Help all students learn to read by identifying their reading risk factors before they fall behind. Armed with the knowledge that other Decoding Dyslexia chapters won battles to change their laws, and with the Maryland Dyslexia Task Force report in hand, Decoding Dyslexia MD got to work.
Joining with other statewide advocates for children, Decoding Dyslexia Maryland and the MD School Psychologists Association, supported HB 910 as a first step in the process to implement the Task Force recommendations. Advocates partnered with Delegate Eric Luedtke and Senator Joan Carter Conway to introduce the The Reading Screening & Interventions Bill (HB 910/SB548). After more than four subcommittee meetings, the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved HB 910 with amendments that addressed technical issues and concerns of local districts. The House of Delegates passed the bill 135-1 and sent it to the Senate.
The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee amended HB 910 at the request of school districts, striking language that would have required schools to follow federal requirements to use reliable and valid screening tools. The amendments also removed language that required screening instruments to quickly assess specific, developmentally appropriate foundational reading skills. These skills are identified in reading research as highly predictive of future reading development, including reading difficulties such as dyslexia. The Senate version of HB 910 passed the full Senate 43-0 and differed significantly from the House version.
The journey came to a head this past Monday, April 9, 2018 on the last day session or sine die. It was a hair-raising 15-hour day of back and forth. Joined by other members of Decoding Dyslexia MD and representatives for the Maryland State Education Association, Delegate Luedtke and advocates persisted through various blocks and hold ups. Finally, House and Senate Conferees signed off on compromise language and the House of Delegates immediately voted YES at 11:38 p.m. Celebrations were quelled, however, when it became clear that the Senate had not done the same, thus killing the bill.
Decoding Dyslexia MD’s Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with concerned constituents listening live from their homes to the proceedings and following the updates. Various DDMD county chapters were conferencing with each other. There is a distinct kind of disappointment when a proposal that could help all children, including those with dyslexia, is so close to being available and then is silently killed with no explanation. Fortunately, there is also a distinct and fiery kind of resilience and fortitude that is born from such experiences. That is what I witnessed in the moments after Decoding Dyslexia MD’s bill was deemed dead—I saw a community ignited.
People who prefer to think like Barbra Streisand, “Myths are a waste of time...and prevent progression,” will be the people who finally dispel the myth that young children cannot be screened for reading difficulties and be provided early intervention. Preventing reading failure by employing best practices for reading screening is backed by voluminous research. DDMD’s 2019 bill will also be informed by the recent partnership between the National Center on Improving Literacy and St. Mary’s County Public Schools to create a “Beacon Site Screening Pilot” project.
Decoding Dyslexia Maryland advocates look forward to a different result in 2019, and an energetic celebration as Maryland moves forward to support every student’s right to read.
About the Author: Stacy Brocker is mom to five and her daughter Abi, who is in high school, has dyslexia. Stacy is co-leader of the Howard County chapter of DDMD. If you would would like to learn more about a chapter near you, please visit our Local Chapters Page or Join DDMD today (it's free)!
Fixing the Reading Failure Model: Solutions that Work
My Name is Liz Hembling and I’m here to report on Baltimore County’s efforts to identify and provide early interventions for struggling readers and students with dyslexia:
When I started this journey, parents were fighting to even use the word dyslexia in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). I am happy to report that so much has changed.
BCPS has a head of English Language Arts who you will hear from later today. Her name is Megan Shay. They also have a head of Special Education (Rebecca Rider.) Those departments traditionally worked in silos. Ms. Shay and Ms. Rider decided to join forces and work together to address the dyslexia and reading failure issue in the school system. Together they developed a comprehensive plan to screen, identify, and remediate those children in early grades who have trouble with reading.
Ms. Rider and Shay decided to focus heavily on grades k-2. They wanted all classroom teachers to have a basic understanding of structured literacy so they can identify kids who may be struggling in their classrooms. They trained 807 teachers in LETRS, a course designed by expert Louisa Moats, to accomplish this goal.
They are using Dibels to screen all children early. All kindergarteners are universally screened for reading failure using DIBELS in Fall, winter, and spring. They will continue to screen in first grade if a problem is suspected. The idea is that any child flagged with an issue could receive appropriate instruction without delay.
Shay and Rider also started an ambitious plan to train certain educators in Orton Gillingham. They initially trained 61 teachers, and then expanded the program to 95 so that every elementary and middle school has an OG trained educator. They plan to expand even further. The person who has been training their staff is none other than Fran Bowman. Fran is a fellow in the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators and is considered one of the highly regarded experts in this field. The feedback from BCPS teachers who have taken her course is outstanding. We are hearing reports from teachers who are now making more progress with their students in several months after receiving her course than they have in several years with the same student.
This training has had an amazing impact on the students in our county. I want to read you a letter from one mom so you have an idea of how these investments are impacting families in our schools:
LETTER FROM A MOM: CHEYANNE’S PROGRESS LEARNING TO READ: THANK YOU BCPS
All through kindergarten, Cheyanne received special education and was pulled put for reading and math. After a year she could only read 4 words: The, A, And, and She.
We practiced at home and wrote words to memorize them; but she wasn’t learning. Cheyanne was severely behind all of the other kids in her class. I was so upset.
Fast forward to 1st grade. At the first IEP meeting of the year, our case manager agreed that Cheyanne wasn’t making progress. She suggested that we begin with an Orton Gillingham based approach to reading instruction. I had never heard of OG, so after researching it I noticed it was to go-to approach for students with dyslexia.
Cheyanne’s special education teacher invited me to observe a lesson. I was crying tears of joy because I had never seen my 6 year old read a sentence on her own. They were very focused on each other, it was one on one, and fast moving. Allowing me to watch was great because now I know how to help her at home. Thank you Baltimore County.
In three months using Orton Gillingham methods, she has learned to read more words than she learned over the entire year on Kindergarten and the first few months of 1st grade. Cheyanne can now read words like mat, mop, mob, and with.
I don’t know how else she would learn to read without this knowledgeable teacher. I am grateful for her special educator – we finally have hope; we finally have something that works; we finally have identified dyslexia! Structured literacy programs, like Orton Gillingham, saved my daughter’s life.