Friday, May 7, 2021

Detecting Dyslexia - Editorial Support

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that is characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Every learner is unique and the rate of development will vary from person to person and that's why I will continue to work with others to help students with dyslexia. 

From the Salem Evening News

Our View: Detecting Dyslexia

May 6, 2021

It’s not like state education leaders have been relaxing without much to occupy their time, after more than a year spent ripping apart and rebuilding public education in a pandemic. But guidelines for screening for dyslexia, particularly in the elementary grades, are a long time coming.

The Legislature three years ago voted to require screening for the neurological disability, as Massachusetts joined 34 other states including New Hampshire to do so, according to the National Center for Improving Literacy. But a definition of dyslexia, and a framework for screening for districts to implement, were just released by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education this past January.

Research suggests as many as 17% of children are affected by dyslexia, which hinders one’s ability to recognize and decode words, as well as the sounds associated with printed language. Spotting and addressing dyslexia is as essential to a young student’s learning and development as is identifying those students who are nearsighted or need help hearing.

“Despite the number of students impacted, the considerable advances in research, and the increase in dyslexia-related legislation in the U.S., early identification and targeted education of students with dyslexia in public schools remains a challenge,” write the authors of the state’s guidelines. Their 81-page document, covering the gamut from who screens children and how, to descriptions of evidence-based programs to help students learn to read, is a significant step in addressing this need.

We look forward to the day in the near future when identifying dyslexia, and arranging resources for those with the disorder, is as unremarkable as the school nurse asking students to read off the letters on an eye chart.

Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, who co-sponsored the 2018 bill prompting the new guidelines, told Statehouse reporter Christian Wade that Massachusetts needs to be “far more aggressive” about intervention. “No child should be sitting in a classroom struggling to keep pace and feeling frustrated or depressed because they have dyslexia that hasn’t been properly identified or addressed,” said Tarr. Indeed, It’s as unjust as allowing a child who cannot see the whiteboard to sit disengaged in the back.

Creating a protocol to detect and address dyslexia is the least we can do for our kids.