The authors of the report conducted extensive interviews with leading learning disabilities (LD) experts and frequently referenced NCLD’s 2011 State of LD report.
“Don’t ‘Dys’ Our Kids" looks closely at the factors which shape success in reading for the majority of children with learning disabilities who attend public schools:
• how and when the school formally identifies their learning disability; • the kinds of materials, content, and learning environments are available to them; • how they are tested (or “assessed”); • the technology available to them; and • the role their families play in their education.
They also identify key barriers to reading success, such as:
• multiple and sometimes competing constituencies in the LD field that do not always agree on strategies or priorities; • misperceptions about the financial costs of intervention; • inadequate teacher training; and • lack of data linking the receipt of special education to better outcomes.
Given these known barriers, the report recommends the following high-level solutions:
• policies that break down the barriers between general and special education to focus on good teaching overall, • support earlier identification of and intervention in learning disabilities so that more children enter school ready to learn, • maintain a high level of school accountability for helping children with LD make academic progress, and • increase and support the use of UDL principles and RTI approaches.
And the conclusions are eloquently stated:
"Our brains develop similarly in a physical sense, but they do not all acquire language and process information in exactly the same way. These differences give the human condition a wonderful diversity, but they also pose some problems when it comes to reading proficiently. …
To the extent that we must all try to master the functions inherent in reading, we are all in a similar boat. However, the current that carries the boats forward is not equally strong for struggling, striving, and proficient readers. Children who have dyslexia and other learning disabilities, children who live in low-income families or poor neighborhoods with under-resourced schools, and children of color disproportionately bear the negative consequences of not being able to read proficiently. Many children who fit more than one of those criteria never get the interventions and supports they need to overcome their barriers to reading.
Therefore, we cannot expect a rising tide to lift all boats. We need more parents who understand what their children need, more students who have strong self-esteem and self-advocacy skills, and more teachers and school leaders who understand what dyslexia is and how to overcome it. We need these stakeholders to come together in a grassroots effort to connect education for students with LD to the broader literacy movement. And we need more mayors, governors, school superintendents, and chief state school officers to embed in schools, school districts, and state education systems the structures and practices that make a difference."
On Wednesday, Nov. 14th from 1-2 p.m. (ET), the Tremaine Foundation will host a webinar on “Don’t Dys Our Kids” with advocates and leaders on learning disabilities and early literacy issues to discuss the report’s recommended actions and highlight successful efforts in communities today. Register today!