On Sunday, November 19, parents and teachers listened to presentations at the Chelsea School to learn more about dyslexia. The Next Steps for Dyslexia Networking Forum featured experts and informed parents who know the challenges of trying to “figure it out.” Just as every learning difference has its unique elements, each family’s journey is also unique. However, there are laws and resources that can help educators and families find the best path forward.
The Next Steps Forum featured Attorney Nicole Joseph, with Nicole Joseph Law who provided attendees with an overview of special education law and rights under both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). Ms. Joseph covered the special education process including identifying a disability; school system and outside evaluations; developing IEPs; reviewing progress; and options when there is disagreement and also included specific advocacy strategies for students with learning disabilities like dyslexia.
The next presentation, by Laura Schultz, Parent and Decoding Dyslexia Maryland State Leader, provided an overview of the Maryland State Department of Education Technical Assistance Bulletin on Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia. She provided information on how interested families and teachers can use this document to ensure that students are identified and receive instruction and accommodations for success in school. See the Facts Sheets page for more resources for families and schools.
Amy Siracusano, Literacy Integration Specialist, Calvert County Public Schools explained to attendees exactly what early effective instruction should look like. Ms. Sircusano is a firm believer in making sure teachers are trained using structured literacy to teach all students how to read using diagnostic and prescriptive approaches to teach foundational reading skills.
Laurie Moloney, CALT, DCIDA President explained what effective instruction would look like for a student with dyslexia and said that the more severe the dyslexia, the more comprehensive and intensive the intervention typically must be. She provided an overview of the specific elements of instruction that can dramatically improve outcomes for severely dyslexic students who struggle even after receiving a targeted intervention, including those considered to be Orton-Gillingham-based.
About the Presenters:
Nicole Joseph: Nicole provides legal representation for children with disabilities in the special education process from eligibility and IEP development through administrative hearings. She is also the proud parent of an amazing dyslexic child.
Amy Siracusano is a Literacy Integration Learning Specialist in Calvert County Public Schools and a teacher member of Decoding Dyslexia
Laurie is an academic language therapist in private practice serving moderately to severely dyslexic students.
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