Reading Specialist Preparation Programs Aligned to the Science of Reading

Reading Specialist Preparation Programs Aligned to the Science of Reading

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Decoding Dyslexia-DE started this petition to Office of the Secretary Delaware Department of Education

This petition is for our Delawarean educators who want to do better now that they know better. Additionally, this petition is on behalf of our 60% of students who require systematic, explicit phonics instruction. Regulations for Reading Specialist Regulations are changing. The proposed changes in Regulation 1581 School Reading Specialist, Section 4.0, align teacher-preparation programs with the International Literacy Association (ILA) 2017 Reading/Literacy Specialist Standards. Unfortunately, the ILA Reading Specialist Standards (2017) are not aligned to the Science of Reading (SoR).

This proposed regulation aligns with MORE of what Delaware pre-service teachers are currently receiving (paying for, going in debt for) in their Delaware preparation programs. More Whole Language and Balanced Literacy, more of the status quo. As a Literacy Coach in Red Clay Consolidated School District, I worked with many teachers, who like myself, had not received anything necessary to reach all my learners. Especially the ones like myself with dyslexia. Until the SoR made it possible for me to be the educator I needed when I was younger - the educator every child deserves. As a first-grade teacher in Boston, I realized my Boston College M.Ed. had left me ill-equipped for teaching reading. Frustrated, I left the classroom and attended MGH Institute of Health Professions. My International Dyslexia Association (IDA) training taught me the knowledge and skills needed to apply the science of reading in the classroom.

Dr. Sally Shayweitz of Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity said, "There is an epidemic of reading failure that we have the scientific evidence to treat effectively and we are not acknowledging or implementing it." Instructional practices are currently creating reading circuits that more closely resemble mine than that of a proficient reader. Educators want to know better so they can do better. A federal appeals court has ruled that literacy is a constitutional right. How can we ensure this in the First State? By teaching reading the right way. THE FIRST TIME!

The ILA Reading Specialist Standards are an outrage against equity. There is no mention of dyslexia. ILA Reading Specialist Standards will not prepare Reading Specialists adequately because they haven't so far! The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ensure students with disabilities receive an evidence-based free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. In 2015, The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) clarified that IDEA supports the specific labelings within Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD):

"Therefore, if a child's dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia is the condition that forms the basis for the determination that a child has a specific learning disability, OSERS believes that there could be situations where an IEP Team could determine that personnel responsible for IEP implementation would need to know about the condition underlying the child's disability(e.g., that a child has a weakness in decoding skills as a result of the child's dyslexia)." Dear Colleague: Dyslexia Guidance, 2015

Please note, OSERS does NOT use the term "print disability" in the letter. This document gives context to Child Find, which mandates schools identify students with Specific Learning Disabilities (Specific Learning Disorders, for contrast, are diagnosed in a clinical setting).

The ILA proceeded to blatantly disregard Federal guidance and mandates in their 2019 Position Statement Children, Experiencing Reading Difficulties What We Know and What We Can Do. In the paper, several paragraphs elaborate on the heading "The Downside of Labeling." Additionally, a letter to Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) past presidents and officials of the ILA deceptively employs skewed citations by the American Psychological Association (APA) and DSM-5 to misrepresent dyslexia. (Please See: In Defense of Truth: A reply to 57 Reading Voices on the Issue of Dyslexia Steven P. Dykstra, Ph.D.). The ILA Literacy Glossary includes rosy and lengthy definitions of balanced literacy and whole language, but there is no mention of "structured literacy" or "evidence-based." The latter is increasingly concerning as evidence-based is used profusely throughout the 2017 Reading/Literacy Specialist Standards. Decoding Dyslexia-DE has been fighting these the proposed regulations since November 2020. Now, some IDA-aligned courses are offered, after the fact—a bandaid to an ax wound.

We know you agree. Our students, our brilliant babies deserve better than more of the same. We deserve more than the status quo. So, educators, parents, friends, fellow neuro-divergents, please sign this petition and tell DDOE that you want Reading Specialist Standards that align with the Science of Reading. Delaware deserves the International Dyslexia Association's Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading.

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Image Courtesy of Paddy Donnelly, Prints Available! With a Happily Ever After! 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!