Mandate evidenced based instruction AND intervention in all schools.
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I am a mother and an advocate for two Dyslexic children, an Aunt of two Dyslexic Nephews and a friend of many with Dyslexia and other learning difficulties. These difficulties create many struggles for learning, especially reading and writing.
My children have both been offered between them many hours of 'intervention' within school to close the gap of their literacy level. Taken out of class, away from their peers and given false hope that their struggles would be met with the help they needed to catch up and reverse the shame that comes from struggling to learn to read at a basic level. The devastating consequences that illiteracy brings starts early. The loss of self-esteem, shame, embarrassment, anxiety and depression (1). The longer term outcomes that come from never receiving the correct remediation and hence never learning to read at a functional level are devastating. Unemployment, ill-health, continued and compounded mental health issues to name a few.
Learning to read is a basic human right and education providers have an obligation to provide that opportunity to all children. There is a clear body of evidence that supports how this can be achieved. In the report 'Helping people with dyslexia: a national agenda (2) it was highlighted that 52% of Australian teenagers are unable to meet the basic demands of everyday life and work due to poor literacy. Further to this, the research shows that these children are at greater risk of mental health related illnesses, crime and delinquency. It doesn’t need to be this way.
The good news is that within this very same report there are several well documented recommendations for interventions to these devastating outcomes. The report recommends the following: This is CHANGE that our children and community so desperately need...Now! The following needs to be mandated across all school systems:
- Highly qualified teachers delivering quality evidence based reading instruction in the classroom.
- Early screening for struggling readers in school.
- Early evidenced based intervention (small group and one on one, systematic synthetic phonic instruction) provided for struggling readers.
- Officially recognizing dyslexia as a disability.(It is already recognized in the Disability Discrimination Act – just not a funded one)
- Providing appropriate accommodations and support for struggling readers, diagnosed with dyslexia or not.
- Ensuring evidenced based teaching practice is used for reading instruction and intervention programs.
- Mandated quality professional development for teachers and staff regarding best reading teaching practice.
- Access to specialist learning support for those children who need intensive one on one instruction
- Dyslexia aware schools - a whole school approach is needed.
- Community awareness about the extent of dyslexia
This is currently not happening in all schools. Non-evidenced based practice and programs are still being used. Teachers are not being provided with adequate training to enable them to help children with Dyslexia and other learning difficulties. The early screening of children struggling to read allows for interventions to be put in place that will provide support for these children and intervention that they so desperately need (3). Many teachers don't have the training to identify these kids and if they do they simply lack the structured support needed to rescue these kids from literacy failure. Schools need to have the capacity to provide students with a specialist literacy intervention program delivered by specialist educators. There is too much pressure on teachers to provide this without enough resources, education and support.
Currently, parents are forced to pay out thousands of dollars per year for private specialist intervention for their children. They are forced to take them out of school to learn how to read? Not all families are able to fund this or find their way through the sticky web of mis-information to in fact find the help their children need - this is an equity, even a human rights issue. This intervention should and can be implemented in schools. Schools need to arm teachers with well research evidenced based teaching strategies (3). School leaders and education stakeholders need to evaluate current practices and assure they are following an evidenced based, explicit whole school approach that is regularly reviewed and monitored. Each child, especially those with a red flags for literacy failure should be closely monitored for progress and interventions for these children should be guided by a specialist literacy teacher.
Dyslexia is not a life sentence. Kids can learn to read and become successful despite their learning difficulties, despite Dyslexia. I watched my children’s' mental health spiral downward and hit rock bottom. At age (9) you shouldn't ever have to hear your child use the words 'rather die and school' in the one sentence..You get the picture!
I found my way through the tangled web of information and found the intervention my children needed. And YES, they can read and they are seeing reading success. This success could have been realized in school, much earlier during all of those pain staking hours of insufficient intervention.
Please help me help our children and our future, please support this petition and sign and spread the word. Let’s let our leaders know just how important this is for our children and our state and countries future.
(1) Boyes, Leitao, Claessen, Badcock and Nayton, Dyslexia, an international journal of research, "Why are reading difficulties associated with mental health problems?", July, 2016, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/dys.1531/full
(2) Dyslexia working party, Report to the Hon. Bill Shorten Parlimentary Secretary for Disabilities and Childrens Services, January 2010, http://dyslexiaassociation.org.au/uploads/Dyslexia%20Working%20Party.pdf
(3) Rowe, Ken And National Inquiry Into The Teaching Of Literacy (Australia) "Teaching Reading” (2005). Web. 7 Apr. 2017. http://research.acer.edu.au/tll_misc/5/
please watch this video, it explains the situation very well!
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