Monday, September 9, 2013

Indiana's Laws are Failing Dyslexic Students

In the state of Indiana, dyslexia is not a word used by most schools.  That’s because there isn’t a definition of dyslexia in Article 7 of Indiana’s education law.  Parents must wait for a child to fall far enough behind his peers before the school will test to see if the child has a Specific Learning Disability (SLD).  Dyslexics make up 80% of those that qualify as having a Specific Learning Disability. Unfortunately, this puts parents in the position of waiting. If they test too soon, the child can’t qualify for accommodations and intervention. If they test too late, after third grade, the child is past the optimal age for intervention. According to studies, dyslexics should get help as early as kindergarten.  Indiana’s education law makes dyslexics fail for several years before they give them any help. According to studies performed by Yale, less than 30% of dyslexics are ever identified and far fewer ever receive appropriate interventions. When they are identified, it is past the optimal age for intervention. By this point, the student is so far behind, it takes one-on-one Orton Gillingham tutoring to get them to grade level. This is very expensive and schools are not trained to provide this intervention nor willing to pay for it.  Currently, those children who have the resources to afford Orton Gillingham tutoring are able to close the gap. Those students that aren’t fortunate to have money, have little chance of closing the gap with the current interventions used in most schools. 
Laws around the country are changing.  Indiana is behind.  Other states are recognizing the social impact of this problem and are making changes.  They are recognizing the benefit of early intervention.  They are finding that it is less expensive to intervene early than it is to provide remediation later.  Data shows that if you get a student up to grade level by second grade, they remain on par with their peers.  As a state and as a country we can’t afford to ignore this group of students.

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