How American Schools Fail Students with Dyslexia
"There are proven ways to help people with dyslexia learn to read, and a federal law that's supposed to ensure schools provide kids with help. But across the country, public schools are denying children proper treatment and often failing to identify them with dyslexia in the first place." So reads the lead in to reporter Emily Hanford's fall 2017 American Public Media Educate podcast, Hard to Read. How American Schools Fail Students with Dyslexia.
Some of the reasons for this systemic failure are the same as those Hanford reported in the American Public Media Educate podcast, Hard Words. Why aren’t kids being taught to read?, which we discussed last month. Many teachers don't know about evidence-based literacy instruction since it wasn't taught during their pre-service education. Other educators remain resistant to evidence-based practice, in spite of the science. But children with SLD/Dyslexia face additional barriers to learning to read. Estimated to be 5 to 12% of American students, these struggling readers need specialized reading instruction, which is more expensive than, say, general "tier one" reading instruction. If schools "say dyslexia," they may be legally obligated to provide appropriate special education services. That appropriate instruction is not only costly to the student's public school system, it may also be difficult to find someone qualified to provide it. Why? For the same reasons that general education teachers lack this knowledge. In order to fill the knowledge-to-practice gap, advanced practitioners of Structured Literacy* not only require the necessary coursework, but also additional hours of supervised, hands-on experience with students.
Thank You, Decoding Dyslexia!
Thanks to parent advocacy—especially the 50 state chapters of Decoding Dyslexia —many more states are passing dyslexia laws that not only require the identification and treatment of students with SLD/Dyslexia, but also the appropriate training of the teachers who service them. In Connecticut, we #SayDyslexia.
Passing SLD/Dyslexia legislation is not enough, however. "Accountability is still lacking, funding sparse and confusion widespread throughout U.S. schools about the reading disability," reports Hanford. "We have a really good screening law, but it's not being implemented with fidelity," said Allison Quirion, founder of Decoding Dyslexia Connecticut. "Many schools don't understand what's required of them."