Students in Maryline Williams’ kindergarten class know they have a teacher who will help them succeed. The Henry David Thoreau Elementary School teacher is one of 16 Seattle Heroes in the Classroom to be recognized during the 2019 NFL season.
Dyslexia and Foundational Literacy
Supporting Reading for All Students
Over the past two years, a district Dyslexia Advisory Team has been working to develop systems and supports for a district-wide approach to serving students with reading difficulties including dyslexia. 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.” (Lyon, Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2003).
- Summary of 2018-19 District Efforts
- Summary of 2017-18 District Efforts
- What are the next steps in LWSD's work in dyslexia and foundational reading?
- How is the district partnering with families in this work?
In 2018-19, we provided professional learning focused on dyslexia and foundational literacy instruction to nearly 500 K-3 teachers. Intervention and special education teachers also participated in a three-day Reading Academy taught by the Consortium on Reaching Excellence (CORE). These teachers were trained by CORE in our new intensive reading intervention curriculum Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness (SIPPS). Additionally, all middle school Safety Net English Language Arts teachers, and a group of Special Education English Language Arts teachers received year-long professional development through CORE on working with adolescents with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. Next year, we will offer intensive reading courses for teachers at each of our middle schools. These courses will include instruction on using research-based curricular tools to systematically and explicitly teach phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency.
In addition, we have expanded the use of Lexia Learning (a web-based, blended learning literacy program), to include any K-2 student who qualifies for Safety Net services. Students will use Lexia in small groups during core reading block instruction, as well as at home. Our Title I elementary schools are also piloting new M-Class subtests that work with the DIBELS assessments. These assessments will allow us to better screen for students at risk for significant reading difficulty, including dyslexia.
We have also developed programming for middle school students who demonstrate gaps in foundational reading skills. This work has included a summer program and implementation of a foundational reading intervention program in our middle schools. Last summer, Kamiakin Middle School hosted our Summer Bridge Academy using two targeted curricula to improve students’ basic reading skills. This program included ten students entering grades 7-9 who were performing below standard in reading on multiple measures. Due to the reading achievement growth that these students demonstrated, we will be expanding the Summer Bridge Academy reading program to include students from regions across the district this summer.
We hosted a parent information meeting with the PTSA-Special Needs Group dyslexia parent leads in May. At this event we shared information about our district’s Dyslexia Advisory Team, our work to date, and how to access current reading supports available to our students. Input was also be gathered about priorities for future parent engagement sessions.
During the 2017-18 school year, the Directors of Special Education and Intervention Programs co-led a Dyslexia Advisory Team to develop a district-wide approach to supporting students with dyslexia. “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.” (Lyon, Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2003).
The team included:
- Four special education and intervention program specialists
- One school psychologist
- One speech and language pathologist
- Three parents
- Three Safety Net teachers
- Four special education teachers
- Two general education teachers
Advisory members reviewed research-based practices to address dyslexia. Research and resources from Dr. Jack Fletcher from the University of Houston; the International Dyslexia Association; the Consortium on Reaching Excellence; Sally Shaywitz from Yale University; and The Center for the Collaborative Classroom, were considered during the review, and were used to develop indicators for evaluating and identifying specific assessments and curriculum that are currently being piloted in schools.
Nine screening tools were reviewed by our team, including our current district-wide screening assessment, DIBELS Next, which is used in grades K-2. The team selected DIBELS Next, which provides early screening for students with dyslexia or who are at risk for dyslexia, and is one of the screeners recommended by the International Dyslexia Association. This screener provides an early identification system to teachers from the beginning of kindergarten, and tracks progress through later grades.
A subcommittee also reviewed twenty-eight curriculum programs. Three research-based programs met the majority of the criteria for further review by the team. These criteria were:
I. Inclusion of content to specifically address dyslexia
- Multisensory approach like Orton-Gillingham
- Lesson plans that use a sequential scope and sequence
- Instruction that is explicit, systematic and cumulative
- Phonics: decoding syllables, morphemes, irregular words, and spelling
- Phonemic awareness: segment works into component sounds
- Fluency: phonemes, words, connected text
- Reading comprehension: vocabulary, text comprehension, narrative, and expository
- Written expression: word, sentence level, narrative and expository
II. The availability of diagnostic and progress monitoring assessments that align with the curriculum
III. Feasibility of the curriculum
- Can be used effectively by teachers in small group and individual settings
- Includes professional development to support effective use of the curriculum
- Is cost-effective
The curricula selected for piloting were:
- Fundations: A multi-sensory, individual and small group, systematic and sequential language program for students with reading difficulties, including students with dyslexia. Published by Wilson Language
- Rave-O: A multi-sensory, individual small-group, intervention curriculum for students with reading difficulties including dyslexia. Published by Sopris West
- SIPPS (Systemic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Sight Words): A multi-sensory, systematic and sequential, individual and small group approach to decoding that supports students, including students with dyslexia in developing reading fluency and comprehension. Published by the Center for the Collaborative Classroom.
The team further reviewed the program during vendor presentations in March. Special education, general education, and safety net teachers are in the process of piloting each curriculum and measuring it against our effective-practice criteria.
In May the team reviewed pilot data and made a final recommendation to use SIPPS as our intervention curriculum to support students with reading difficulties, including dyslexia. The recommendation was forwarded to our Instructional Materials Committee in May and was approved by the Board in June.
Each level of SIPPS includes an Intensive Multi-Sensory Instruction for SIPPS Handbook, which includes student consumable materials and professional learning videos to support teachers in implementing the program. Multisensory routines incorporate student arm and hand motions as well as tracing and writing and additional vocalization. Phonological awareness is taught by simultaneous hand movements or by moving markers to correspond with sounds. Phonics and sight words activities for tracing and writing are included. In guided spelling, students spell aloud as they write, and they point to each letter while spelling back what they have written. Beginning Level includes air and finger writing for phonics. Challenge Level includes tracing and writing of irregular sight syllables.
The Intervention and Special Services Departments are currently developing and delivering training for general education teachers, Special Education and Safety Net teachers. The first trainings for over 120 Safety Net and Special Education teachers occurred in April and May.
Additional training for all district elementary teachers is scheduled to begin in August 2018. In this training, teachers will learn about dyslexia and how to identify struggling readers using our screening assessment. All our K-3 teachers will receive an additional half day of training on effective foundational literacy instruction and instructional routines used to teach phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency.
During the 2018-19 school year our Safety Net and Special Education teachers will receive five full days of intensive training on teaching reading and delivering reading intervention to address dyslexia using the new SIPPS curriculum.
In the fall of 2018, we will be communicating with teachers, administrators and families about our approach to dyslexia, the curriculum adoption, and professional development that will occur.
Future work includes developing intentional supports for students in grades three through twelve who are at-risk for reading difficulties, including dyslexia.
Lyon, G. R., Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2003). Defining dyslexia, comorbidity, teachers’ knowledge of language and reading: A definition of dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia, 53, 1-14. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11881-003-0001-9
Additional Information & Resources
International Dyslexia Association
- During the Title I Summer Program teachers will pilot the next level of SIPPS (Challenge) with 3rd and 4th graders.
- Next year Intervention services will increase the number of elementary interventionists by 25, every elementary school will have a minimum of one full time intervention teacher. These teachers will participate in professional learning; three days of Reading Fundamentals, curriculum training in SIPPS, DIBELS Next administration and data interpretation, protocols for data informed instructional decision making and other evidence-based practices.
- Building on the training delivered to the K-3rd grade teachers last fall, the Dyslexia Advisory Team will deliver professional learning focused on dyslexia and foundational literacy instruction for 4th and 5th grade teachers in the fall of 2019.
- Classroom teacher support for foundational reading skill instruction and practices through continued expansion of access to Lexia, an online adaptive learning tool, to include all K students beginning in the fall of 2019.
- In the 2019-20 school year, middle school ELA Intervention teachers and ELA Special Educators will continue to receive training on assessment and targeted intervention for foundational reading difficulties. Additional teachers in these programs will be trained to implement Language! LIVE and other curricular tools in the coming year.
- The Dyslexia Advisory Team includes ongoing participation by parents and guardians.
- On May 30th, 2019, a parent information meeting was held in partnership with the PTSA-Special Needs: Dyslexia parent leads. At this event, the work of the team to date was shared along with opportunities for parents to ask questions and share experiences. Input was gathered about priorities for future parent engagement sessions.