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Haley23 10-21-2019 05:06 PM

Identifying dyslexia
My state is doing a big "structured literacy" initiative which is basically explicit phonics instruction. We have been doing this at my school for years, so nothing new to us, but as our district has been "selected" to participate in the statewide process, we now have a bunch of coaches and state level people doing PD/observations/coaching.

One of the "coaches" keeps sending out articles to the staff on dyslexia. A common theme is schools refusing to use the word dyslexia (and using umbrella terms like "specific learning disability" instead), not providing sped services, etc. She just sent a long article along those lines with stories about students whose schools "denied" special education due to average grades and standardized test scores.

This makes NO sense to me. We've been told BY THE STATE that we are not to say kids are dyslexic because it's a medical diagnosis. We've had teachers/parents who have balked at that, but my thing has always been that one doesn't need a word/label to receive the proper interventions. If we see that they have deficits in phonological awareness, phonics, spelling, etc. then that's what their services are focused on. Officially using the word "dyslexia" wouldn't change a single thing. I also personally don't like that because I feel like teachers focus on dyslexia being some super special/different thing that only a special ed teacher knows how to "fix," when there are research based ways of teaching reading that ALL teachers should be using.

The other thing is that we've always been told that in order to receive an IEP, there must be an educational impact. In my state, the two main qualifiers for SLD are performance significantly below peers and non-response to research based interventions. If a kid has "dyslexic tendencies" but is able to achieve average/above average grades and standardized test scores with no intervention, how can they legally qualify for an IEP?

PS- Just in case anyone is curious, here is the latest article we received:

seenthelight 10-21-2019 06:19 PM

Here’s my gen. ed. take on the matter. I don’t call kids dyslexic because, as you said, it’s a medical diagnosis. However, I do say suspected learning disability and fill out a dyslexia screener in order to get them tested. As for thinking only the sped teacher can “fix” it, I don’t. However, in my district those trainings you mentioned are only given to the dyslexia specialists. We in gen. ed. get some general training, but no where near the extent that the dyslexia teachers get. Not only that, but without the label there the kids are limited in the accommodations they get. Again, it’s not that I think sped and/or dyslexia have some magic wand to “fix” these kids, but that at least where I work, my hands are tied behind my back.

eeza 10-22-2019 04:52 PM


If a kid has "dyslexic tendencies" but is able to achieve average/above average grades and standardized test scores with no intervention, how can they legally qualify for an IEP?
This kid wouldn't qualify in my district because there would be no need for services since they are in their least restrictive environment already. The same would be said for the whole state since it's ED code.

WGReading 10-23-2019 05:24 AM

As a reading specialist, there is a huge push right now across the country on dyslexia screening. Most states have adopted, or are considering, legislation requiring early intervention screening for dyslexia.
There is also an advertising campaign related to “saying the word” - I think it’s the International Dyslexia Association spearheading it. I believe the goal is to raise awareness of indicators and reduce the stigma of dyslexia.
Pretty much every literacy related anything I see (organizations, websites, newsletters, FB groups) has included a lot of dyslexia related info lately.

My guess is that this state coach is also being inundated with these articles. It’s definitely a literacy hot topic. Do you have access to this person to ask your SPED related questions? In my district, we will be required to give a screener starting next school year. The screener is currently being developed/selected. As reading teachers with varied training (our district only recently started requiring reading teachers to have a reading endorsement or specialized training so some of our district reading teachers have no literacy training), this leads to questions on what we do next. Do we refer? Share screening results and implications with parents? What curriculum do we have/need to meet student needs? What training will we receive?

It’s a lot, just like where you are.

Haley23 10-26-2019 12:00 PM

Thanks for the replies.


Not only that, but without the label there the kids are limited in the accommodations they get.
Maybe I wasn't clear. I don't begrudge teachers seeking out an IEP for students who really need one. I was more saying that I don't get the fuss over using the word "dyslexia" over "specific learning disability." The SLD label is what we're legally allowed to use. Nothing would change if we were to suddenly start calling kids "dyslexic" instead. To me it just seems like a misguided push. Why not make a fuss over real issues such as providing appropriate services or funding rather than over a word.

We actually do have a sped-specific coach for this initiative and I asked her about it yesterday. Apparently the other coach has a 6th grade son who was just identified (because previously the dyslexia was not impacting his education) and she's now on some sort of personal vendetta. She said a lot of the information this coach is sharing isn't necessarily coming out of our state, but things she's found online elsewhere. Our state is working on passing a dyslexia bill, but nothing has really come out of it yet. She said she has not heard of any changes in the state education department as far as how students qualify for SLD.

I have heard of other states that have passed some sort of dyslexia laws, especially on mandatory early screenings, and have been very curious as to how that's all played out. Are they also changing the way students qualify for special education? Are they simply spending a whole lot of time and resources on formally evaluating kids who don't qualify? Or are they just giving these assessments and nothing changes? I'm in a low SES district and about 90% of entering K students massively fail our beginning of the year screeners.

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