School Committees

Understanding your Important Role Supporting Literacy Instruction

Addressing Dyslexia

Identifying Systemic Challenges in Literacy Instruction

This section explains why the Right to Read Act in Rhode Island is important for future change.

Understanding Dyslexia in the Context of Literacy Instruction

Children with dyslexia are called the "canaries in the coal mine" because their struggles often spotlight flawed literacy practices. Learning about dyslexia naturally leads to an explanation of how the brain processes spoken and written language and it becomes quickly apparent that too many educators were not trained in a body of research referred to as the Science of Reading. RI universities are changing their course work to include the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy. However, too many teachers never received this training and many schools adopted popular reading programs not aligned with the evidence on how the brain learns to read. Our hope is that a literacy coalition is formed to support both teachers and students.

Listen to the following series to learn more about this issue. Sold a Story

Watch full Documentary Here-Our Dyslexic Children

Evaluating District Literacy Curriculum, Instruction, and Reading Interventions

  1. Have all your teachers engaged in the Right to Read training?

  2. How is the district ensuring those teachers who are exempt from the Right to Read training are current on their understanding of the Science of Reading , Structured Literacy, and dyslexia (we also encourage schools to explore Developmental Language Disorder)? The changes to the law allowed for teachers with a Masters Degree to be exempt, despite the fact that their teacher preparation programs did not include structured literacy and components of what is being called the Science of Reading.

  3. The state mandated that districts select an approved English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum. No curriculum is perfect. Here are good questions to ask: What tools are the teachers being provided to identify gaps and practices . Some of the curriculum programs have three-cueing strategies in their manuals and resources. These practices impede orthographic mapping. They should not be used. This is especially problematic in grades K-1.

  4. Are the ELA programs being used promoting leveled readers in the early grades? See the Prezi Presentation to learn more. This is a problematic practice that creates inequities.

  5. How are districts building capacity to address dyslexia? Addressing dyslexia starts with teaching students structured literacy in K-1 core instruction. Dyslexic students will need more practice and repetition than their peers. DDRI frequently works with parents on this issue. Here are our concerns:

      • Students are not receiving intensive interventions. 15 minutes a day of phonics work will not be enough for children on a dyslexia continuum.

      • A program is purchased, but teachers may not receive proper training and coaching to help students achieve mastery of the skills they need to become fluent readers. Teachers may receive a 2 or 3 day training on how a program works, but they do not receive training on how to provide corrective feedback or how to progress monitor (no practicum).

      • IEP goals focus on comprehension when it is clear the child needs decoding goals. Older students may need both decoding goals and additional reading support (fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies).

      • Schools need more training on what types of assessments to use, how to interpret this data, and create meaningful interventions for students with dyslexia. (Red Flag: F&P is being used to assess and remediate dyslexia)

      • Special Education teachers are not trained in Structured Literacy Interventions.

      • School schedules create a barrier to providing adequate services

6. Ask what the district needs to support this work! Each district has unique needs and internal capacity.

Helpful Resources

What is Needed?

Next Steps

  • Explore the systemic issues listed above impacting literacy outcomes for students

  • Analyze district data. How many students are meeting reading benchmarks? How many students are receiving RtI or MTSS services or were placed on a Personal Literacy Plan? How many students did the district identify as at risk of dyslexia or having characteristics of dyslexic (SLD in basic reading and/or fluency)? Is your RtI/MTSS triangle upside down (too many students qualify for Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions)? Addressing dyslexia starts with core instruction!

  • How are students being screened for possible reading struggles? Are the sub-skills of reading being monitored? Assessing & Addressing Dyslexia Section. Utilize the guide to assessments and decision-making document created by the AIM Institute posted by RIDE. Students struggle with reading for different reasons. It is important to identify the individual needs of students. Ask the district to provide data (how many kids were identified at risk for having a reading disability? How many students are being provided a structured literacy intervention? What intervention programs are districts using? Do teachers implementing the programs have proper training and continued instructional coaching? Do teachers have the right training to administer screeners and diagnostic tests? How is the data being shared with parents?

  • Create an anonymous teacher and parent survey to determine areas of need or concern. It is common that teachers are told not to openly discuss concerns that a child shows characteristics of dyslexia with parents. A survey can help detect if the culture is one of early intervention or delay and deny. Include a question to see how many parents are utilizing a private tutor.

  • How is your district going to comply with the Rhode Island Right to Read Act? How is your district going to revise its comprehensive literacy plan to align?

  • Will your district support instructional coaching to support educators after they conduct their Right to Read training?

Federal Laws

State Laws