Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Dyslexia
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Q: What is Forsyth County Schools’ beliefs regarding dyslexia as a learning disability?
A: The term “dyslexia” can be confusing. We have received some questions and comments from parents who feel that the schools do not recognize the diagnosis of “dyslexia.” This would be an inappropriate response from a school because it contradicts the guidance contained in the IDEA 2004, where the term “dyslexia” is included in the definition of a specific learning disability refer to 34 CFR 300.8©(10). We have provided training to our schools on this topic and will continue to provide more training.
The definition of dyslexia adopted by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) states: “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
According to this definition, students with dyslexia demonstrate unexpected difficulties despite the provision of research-based classroom instruction/intervention. This refers to a student who, although provided with reading interventions, does not respond to the interventions. When a parent provides documentation from a private evaluation that specifies a diagnosis of “dyslexia,” the school/district should respond by reviewing the documentation, meeting/conferencing with the parent(s) to discuss the student’s progress in reading, and determining whether there is an impact in academics.
A student must demonstrate that s/he does not make adequate response to core instruction and that subsequent supplemental research-based interventions don’t result in movement towards benchmarks and peer performance levels. However, this is just one piece of the multiple evaluations that need to be collected to determine whether a student is a student with a specific learning disability. It is true that a student can have a diagnosis of dyslexia and not meet eligibility for a specific learning disability category. The diagnosis of dyslexia is simply stating that a child is exhibiting difficulty in reading. The school/district will need to investigate whether the student is experiencing significant learning difficulties that are impacting his/her ability to progress through the curriculum.
Q: What are the early signs of dyslexia?
A: Many times dyslexia is a challenge with reading. However, it is more than just reading. Dyslexia is a challenge with language. This can make it sometimes difficult to spot the signs of dyslexia. Dyslexia can also cause trouble with spelling, speaking, and writing. Students with dyslexia may not struggle with the same reading skills, as each student is different. Some will have a hard time with early skills such as sounding out words (decoding). Other students may have difficulty understanding what they have read. Here is a resource to look for signs of dyslexia at different ages.
Q: Are FCS classroom teachers trained in Dyslexia and Specific Learning Disability?
A: All teachers that hold certification in Georgia have been through an Exceptional Child course where they learn about the characteristics of all disabilities areas including Dyslexia and Specific Learning Disabilities. However, we continue to build and provide additional professional learning opportunities for all of our teachers. Professional development includes literacy focus on the learning environment (the what of learning), teacher instructional practices, student interactions (the how of learning) and student engagement (the way of learning). Our teachers also have access to several Dyslexia Training Modules to expand their knowledge.
Q: What reading program(s) does FCS use to provide additional support to dyslexic students?
A: Forsyth County Schools provide intensive reading instruction for all students in grades K-3. American Reading Company (ARC) curriculum is an evidence-based reading program that provides a valid and reliable assessment framework to assess independent reading levels. ARC incorporates appropriately rigorous and rich texts to engage students while providing practice and production opportunities for building foundational literacy skills. Students participate in small group conferences where direct explicit instruction targeting their individual needs is provided. Instruction focused on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and sentence structure is integrated into each conference or lesson.
Q: What information can you share about Senate Bill 48 that was signed in May 2019 by Governor Kemp?
A: The purpose for the SB48 is to help provide for identification of and support for students K-3rd grade with dyslexia. If we can intervene at a young age, these students may not need the support of special education services. However, some of these students may have significant difficulties and teams will need to consider the support from special education.
Q: Where can I find some additional information about dyslexia?
Understood.org - website dedicated to help people understand learning disabilities. Terrific resource for students who want to understand what their peers go through, for parents who are trying to understand what their children experience, and for teachers who want to empathize better with their students.
How Science Is Rewiring The Dyslexic Brain - an excellent mainstream video dyslexia.
Dyslexia Network of Forsyth County - A local community resource/support group for parents.