December 2, 2019

Sixty-seven percent of Kansas children who are fourth grade or older are reading below fourth grade proficiency according to the 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test results.

But, on Tuesday, November 12 in a big win for the one in five children in the state with dyslexia and the 47 percent who simply struggle to read, the Kansas Department of Education released recommendations, proposed by the Kansas Dyslexia Task Force (KDTF) and unanimously accepted by the State Board, to provide college education students and classroom educators the first steps to solving the literacy crisis in Kansas.

The KDTF newly adopted recommendations include requiring universities to develop coursework for student educators with a specialization in dyslexia and struggling readers; requiring accredited districts to develop tools for, and to screen and identify, students at risk for dyslexia; and using structured literacy as the approach to teach reading to all students. Visit kasb.org/nb1112-6/ for the full list of adopted recommendations and the timeline for implementation. Or view their content below in the next section.

The KDTF, along with Jeanine Phillips, co-founder and executive director, Fundamental Learning Center (FLC) and member of the KDTF, collaborated with the state to bring together experts in the fields of education, science and public policy to fundamentally change how reading is taught to students in public and private schools in the state and create this positive shift in the Kansas educational system.

Phillips, who has worked on this issue over the past 20 years said, “We are thrilled to see the Kansas State Board of Education take these positive steps in giving our teachers the tools they need to help students, including students with dyslexia, learn to read.”

 

FLC has worked independently in Kansas to bring proven curriculum to children who face the literacy challenges of dyslexia. Phillips went on to say “This policy change is the culmination of two decades work for The Fundamental Learning Center that Gretchen Andeel and I co-founded, but there’s a lot more work to do to ensure success. FLC has been successfully working this issue for a long time and we have every intention of using our experience and capabilities to continue producing the kind of results we’ve seen at FLC - and expand them to every child in our state. We commend the Department of Education for taking this bold step in transforming education for Kansas’ most precious resource, our children.”

FLC encourages all parents and teachers to educate themselves on these new policies and requirements. “FLC remains highly involved in this bright new era of education in our state, and we will continue to develop teachers using our structured literacy curriculum. But we’ll need the help of parents and teachers to push our legislature for the funding and implementation of the requirements. We’ve taken a huge step forward, but it’s a long road to where every child is reading successfully,” said Gretchen Andeel, FLC Board Chairwoman, co-founder and Certified Academic Language Therapist. 

The Fundamental Learning Center is a privately funded 501(c) 3, educational not for profit serving children, including children with dyslexia, with reading, writing and spelling difficulties. For over 20 years, FLC has identified the learning differences in a child’s educational path, provided specialized, immersive learning via our accredited school for students Kindergarten through fifth grade, provided support and resources to empower parents and families to successfully support their child’s educational success, and trained teachers to bring structured literacy methodology back to their schools.

For over 20 years, Fundamental Learning Center has identified the learning differences in a child’s educational path, and provided specialized, immersive learning via our accredited school for students Kindergarten through fifth grade. Children with varying degrees of dyslexia learn to read, write and spell their way to educational success.

State Board of Education approves wide-ranging policies on dyslexia.

November 12, 2019

The State Board of Education on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, unanimously approved policies aimed at improving the identification of students with dyslexia, providing them with better services and increasing teacher training.

 

The wide-ranging measures follow more than 18 months of discussion by educators, advocates, psychologists and other stakeholders and will require more funding, although a specific amount wasn’t cited.

 

Board member Jim Porter, who had led a task force on dyslexia, said the policies are needed and represent compromises. “This is a nationwide movement and we are slow to come to the table,” Porter said.

 

Cynthia Hadicke, an education program consultant for the Kansas State Department of Education, said the changes will “benefit our children immensely.” Hadicke chaired a KSDE dyslexia committee that evaluated the earlier recommendations from the task force.

 

The measures will change how colleges prepare teachers, the way teachers identify and help students who are struggling with reading and professional learning.

 

Board members said many of the changes are already being incorporated in teacher preparation and for students but deadlines were attached to all recommendations. Several board members said that they hoped the timelines could be shortened.

 

Under the recommendations, the State Board will:

 

— Require every accredited school district to screen and identify students at risk of dyslexia or demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia in accordance with evidence-based practices by August 2020.

 

— Develop and provide to school districts criteria for vetting and approving tools for screening and assessing students for characteristics of dyslexia by January 2020.

 

— Require each accredited school district to utilize structured literacy as the explicit and evidence-based approach to teaching literacy skills to all students and promote early intervention for students with characteristics of dyslexia by August 2021.

 

— Direct the creation of a dyslexia handbook for use by schools. The creation of the handbook should involve input from a broad array of stakeholders by August 2020.

 

— Identify a dyslexia coordinator within the Kansas State Department of Education by July 2020.

 

— Require candidates for K-6 teaching licenses, English Language Arts endorsements, reading specialist teaching licenses and special education teaching licenses to pass an examination of their knowledge of the science of reading. Testing will begin in August 2021 with full university testing for above licensure in August 2024.

 

— Require school systems provide evidence based and consistent professional learning opportunities consisting of training regarding the nature of dyslexia, an introduction to procedures to identify students who are struggling in reading, and an introduction to intervention strategies and procedures by July 2020.

 

— Encourage Kansas colleges of education to develop coursework by July 2020 of study with a specialization in dyslexia and struggling readers.

The State Board also approved the definition of dyslexia as provided by the International Dyslexia Association, which says dyslexia is “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

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