Let's pretend Parents have already been notified that you are preparing to screen your 2nd-grade classroom with a universal dyslexia screener approved and provided by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), see Appendix C, pp. 11-13. You know to do this because you have consulted the 2022-2023 IDOE Dyslexia Programming Guidance for Schools. You know that Indiana schools are required to screen for characteristics of dyslexia in grades K, 1 & 2 because you've had meetings with your corporation's reading specialist, who has been trained in dyslexia, see Appendix A, pp. 8-9. Not only are you required to screen your students, but you are also looking forward to the process because you understand that the results of the screening will yield important information about each of your students.
Perhaps you have noticed one student who mispronounces multisyllabic words, and you know which student struggles to identify words that rhyme. And because you are very attentive you have seen the student who asks a friend to tie their shoes a couple of times every day and you've observed the one who bumps clumsily into desks as he approaches his seat. You've also seen that he still, at age 8 cannot remember if he goes left or right down the hall to get to the cafeteria. So before you administer the universal screening, you know which of your students have traits and classroom performance that already have alerted you and others who work with them. There is data from previously administered universal screenings. You have written, kept and filed anecdotal notes. You discuss concerns with other educators and special services providers, and the reading specialist. All data is part of each child's story. You are ready to screen.
Post-screening, the parents of the students who were not flagged by the screener will be notified, and regular educational programming will resume for them*. The screener flagged six students in 2nd grade as "at risk" or "at some risk" for characteristics of dyslexia. One of the flags surprises you, the others, you expected. Immediately you notify the parents of the six who were flagged on the screening results, with information on your school's plan for Response to Instruction with a program of Multi-Tiered System of Support (RTI/MTSS) and again, a request for permission. You are prepared to begin the interventions as soon as you have the parent's signature. (So today, as you read this, check to be sure of your school's plan for RTI/MTSS. If you are unsure of who to speak with and what questions to ask, prepare yourself with some talking points. Included with parent notification is a consent request form for a Level 1 diagnostic assessment to test for characteristics of dyslexia. As soon as you receive consent, you will administer the Level 1 diagnostic assessment for characteristics of dyslexia.
As per the requirement in the IDOE Dyslexia Guidance, the school is approaching the 90th day of instruction this year, so you are right on schedule. Buy yourself some flowers, and keep going. You should be regularly collaborating on behalf of your students with the reading specialist for your school corporation. The data you are collecting, as part of the state's Reading Plan, must be reported to the IDOE every year, and the guide tells you exactly which data to include in your report to the reading specialist, who will compile and submit data for your school corporation to the state.
If any of these 6 flagged students, or any others in your class has a current IEP for a specific learning disability (SLD), there are systems in place to help them. Work through the ICAM/IERC NIMAS CCC Forms to evidence a print disability, in this case, a reading disability. The Case Conference may need to reconvene to fill in forms 1, 2, 3a. Form 4 must be signed by the teacher, reading specialist, school psychologist or any one of the professionals named in this list. Then, determine which books the student needs in an accessible format, fill in form 3b, give the forms to the digital rights manager (DRM) and the student can begin using accessible materials from the ICAM. Very soon.
If a student currently has an IEP indicating the presence of SLDs, they may not be required to participate in the universal screenings, although it would be helpful to create a full snapshot of the child with their strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, you have attended some of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) trainings presented by PATINS staff, and have explored the Virtual UDL Classroom--this will help you plan whole-group instruction as you meet the learning goals of your students with specific needs related to dyslexia, as well as those of your students who were not flagged, the ones who have resumed regular educational programming. Typical students do not require extra support but it may enhance and reinforce their learning.*
It is SO important that we support our dyslexic learners in every way we can. If you are not yet familiar with the IDOE's Guide get in there. SB 217 is a state law now, and lost time never comes back. We just have to keep moving forward. Contact PATINS/ICAM staff on how to get started, or how to keep going. If we cannot answer a question, we will find out who can. Any of the PATINS Specialists can help you with technology, devices and software. Borrow from the PATINS Lending Library. You entered teaching for specific reasons and then realized that teaching is not a destination, it's a journey. Let us support you as you travel.
My high school English teacher would scold me for using that cliché. Please forgive me.
Thanks so much!