Effective Education is the Root of Equity
We need your help to ensure full funding of DC's new Dyslexia Law:
Please write to Chairman Mendelson, your Ward Council member and staff and advocate for full funding of this important new law. The children of the District have a right to read and they are counting on us.
Click on this customizable letter template
Chairman Phil Mendelson:
Brianne Nadeau, Ward 1:
Brooke Pinto, Ward 2:
Mary Cheh, Ward 3:
Janeese Lewis-George, Ward 4:
Kenyan McDuffie Ward 5:
Charles Allen, Ward 6:
Vincent Gray, Ward 7:
Trayon White, Ward 8:
Anita Bonds, At Large:
Christina Henderson, At Large:
Elissa Silverman, At Large:
Robert White, At Large:
Read the Final bill and
B23-0150 Access to Reading for All: Addressing Dyslexia and Other Reading Difficulties Act of 2020
Missed the 2/17 Membership Meeting?
Click here to watch
Dr. Elliot Blumenstein discuss learning loss and parenting during the pandemic
No Worries if you missed Decoding Dyslexia DC's June Meeting
Securing an Effective IEP for Your Child
Frances Shefter, Esq.
If your child struggling in school, the school is brushing off your concerns, and you're unaware of your legal rights under IDEA, this video is for you! Schools often dismiss parental concerns of potential disabilities and fail to inform parents of their procedural safeguard rights. You do not have to take NO for an answer, and there ARE arguments you can make to get the school to listen. The key is knowing your rights and what “buzzwords" to use. This presentation will help arm you with this knowledge and empower you to advocate for your child.
Frances Shefter has dedicated her whole life to working with children with special needs. She has an undergraduate degree in early childhood education, a master’s degree in special education, seven years of teaching regular and special education, and two years as Special Education Coordinator. She decided she was not making as much of a difference in children’s lives as she wanted, so she earned a law degree with a Certificate of Concentration in Advocacy and opened her firm, Shefter Law, PA, in Rockville, MD, where the firm helps families in the DC metro area have a stress-free IEP experience. Visit Frances' website at https://shefterlaw.com to sign up for her newsletter for free pointers on how to have a stress free IEP experience.
Act 23-0548, Addressing Dyslexia and Other Reading Difficulties Act of 2020 was passed by the DC Council on 11/10/2020. Mayor Bowser declined to sign it, but did not veto it, and it became law in January. The bill needs to be funded. The bill requires $0 for DCPS in FY22 and $272,000 for OSSE in FY22.
Background on Reading in DC:
In 2019 only 30% of DC 4th grade students were at or above a proficient reading level.
In 2019 only 5% of DC special education students were proficient on the PARCC exam
Research indicates 85-90% of students with disabilities can perform at grade level when given appropriate support
DC Students are overwhelmingly identified after that optimal age of intervention (kindergarten/first grade)
DCPS started a Dyslexia task force in January, 2020
1,483 DCPS teachers attended a one-hour “Science of Reading”
Professional Development (PD) event in June, 2020
599 DCPS teachers attended a three-hour dyslexia PD in June
While DCPS has science based reading programs such as Wilson Fundations and Heggerty Phonemic Awareness, not all schools use them for initial instruction, and not all teachers have extensive training in them. Some DCPS schools use programs based on “cueing” or guessing techniques such as Reading Recovery.
In FY22 please support, full funding for Act 23-548 and consider using the following points in your advocacy outreach:
Continued and more intensive training for teachers of reading, reading specialists, coaches and special education teachers on science based reading instruction is needed city-wide.
Teacher education programs provide little if any training on identifying and supporting dyslexic students.
Continued and more intensive training on interpretations of DIBELS scores and their connection to dyslexia and reading difficulty is urgent.
Research shows intensive reading intervention in kindergarten and first grade is most effective, but OSSE data shows that DC students are largely identified as having a specific learning disability after this optimal age.
Require dyslexia training for all teachers. Dyslexia is not rare and represents 80-90 percent of all those with learning disabilities.
Teachers of reading must know warning signs, and all teachers must know about the most common learning disability and how to accommodate students in various content areas.
Children with dyslexia who aren’t identified or remediated have higher rates of dropout, unemployment, anxiety and depression.
A study estimates that almost 50 percent of prison inmates have dyslexia.
The Bill is Law!
DC Act 23-528 Addressing Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties Amendment Act of 2020 provides:
A Definition of Dyslexia
Universal screening (K-2) and intervention for all public AND charter schools in DC for reading difficulties, including dyslexia
Parent notification of screening results and intervention plan
Awareness training on reading difficulties including dyslexia for ALL educators
Professional Development on reading difficulties including dyslexia, screening, and intervention based on the science of reading
Adoption of a science-based reading program by each LEA
All training and supports are informed by best practices such
as the knowledge and practice standards of an international dyslexia organization
A position at OSSE to help implement the requirements of the bill
Decoding Dyslexia DC Statement Regarding Dyslexia and Reading Difficulties in the Black Community
Because Decoding Dyslexia DC believes the right to read is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time.
Because Black students with dyslexia and reading difficulties are disproportionately unidentified or misidentified.
Because Black students are consistently given little to no access to appropriate structured literacy approaches by schools.
Because, false narratives about Black parents such as lack of involvement, care, or concern are perpetuated, and delay, interfere, and block access to appropriate reading instruction for Black students.
Because, Black students not only have to overcome the effects of dyslexia and other reading difficulties but also all forms of racism, including implicit bias, educational bias, institutional bias, and systematic bias.
We pledge to authentically support, raise awareness of, advocate on behalf of, and hold accountable the systems that overlook the needs of Black students.
We pledge to be conscious and intentional in our messaging, campaigns, imagery, advocacy, support, and partnerships to ensure that Black students and families are represented.
We understand the growth and change we need to make, and we stand
in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Adapted from: Decoding Dyslexia BLM Workgroup Statement (6-14-20)
Missed Jamie Martin's May 28 Presentation? No Problem!
Watch the video HERE
Jamie Martin, Assistive Technology (AT) Specialist at the New England Assistive Technology Center in Hartford, CT specializes in finding AT solutions for students and adults with dyslexia. Learn about different types of assistive technology and how it can help children regardless of the learning environment.
Decoding Dyslexia DC
DC Office of the
Student Advocate (OSA)
have published a
Guide For Struggling Readers & Spellers in DC.
Check it out!
Watch this TEDx Talk
"Dyslexia and Privilege"
Decoding Dyslexia - Washington, DC Welcomes You
Decoding Dyslexia - DC is a grassroots movement driven by DC families concerned about the limited access to educational interventions for students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties within our schools. We aim to raise awareness and empower families to support their children. We also want to inform policy-makers on best practices for screening, identifying, remediating, and supporting students with dyslexia and reading difficulties in DC.
Reading is a fundamental civil right, but the status quo is not working for the vast majority of DC's school children. They should have access to effective reading and spelling instruction, and it's up to all of us to make this happen.
Raise Dyslexia Awareness
There are so many ways we can raise awareness -- from small steps to giant leaps… Let’s start now!
Empower Families to Support Children
Children deserve their civil right to read, and families need to know how to advocate for their children.
Information is power.