February Keystone Newsletter

February Newsletter

From the Director’s Desk………..

The Dyslexia Task Force recently gave it’s final recommendations to the legislature.  There are too many recommendations to review for our newsletter so I hope you’ll take time to read the full report.  I do want to comment on some of those recommendations that are important to special educators.

First among those is the recommendation that Kansas adopt the International Dyslexia Association’s definition of dyslexia which states “dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological 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 growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

Another recommendation calls for pre-service teachers, including special education teachers, pass an examination of their knowledge of the science of reading.  For teacher’s already employed in the classroom, KSBE should require school systems to provide evidence-based and consistent professional development opportunities consisting of training regarding the nature of dyslexia, an introduction in procedures to identify students who are struggling in reading, and an introduction to intervention strategies and procedures.  Additionally, KSBE should require every accredited school district to screen and identify students at risk of dyslexia or demonstrating the characteristics of dyslexia, and KSBE should amend the KESA model to require districts to implement a rigorous tiered system of supports subject to external review.

In the area of instruction, each accredited school system should utilize structured literacy as the evidence-based approach to teaching literacy skills to all students and promote early intervention for students with characteristics of dyslexia.  The New Jersey Dyslexia Handbook should be used to evaluate structured literacy programs for accreditation purposes.

These are just a few of the recommendations that will be considered and it will be interesting to see which of them are implemented.  Some of the recommendations were for increased funding to support the dyslexia training and materials needed. I’ll keep you posted.   Andy