GROUNDBREAKING NEWS FOR ALL WHO CARE ABOUT DYSLEXIA AND THE FUTURE OF CHILDREN WHO ARE DYSLEXIC
AS STATED IN OUR CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONIES, OUR URGENT WISH HAS BEEN FOR EDUCATION TO COME TOGETHER WITH 21ST CENTURY SCIENCE AND IT IS HAPPENING NOW!
DUE TO THE DEDICATED AND UNRELENTING EFFORTS OF NYS ASSEMBLY MEMBER ROBERT CARROLL, ALL STUDENTS IN GRADES ONE AND TWO AT 2 BROOKLYN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS WILL BE SCREENED FOR AT-RISK FOR DYSLEXIA USING THE EVIDENCE-BASED SHAYWITZ DYSLEXIASCREEN
THIS SCREENER IS UNIQUE IN THAT IT WAS DEVELOPED AS PART OF A LONGITUDINAL STUDY WHICH PROVIDES THE RARE DATA INDICATING HOW WELL THE SCREENER PREDICTS DYSLEXIA–IT DOES SO EXTREMELY WELL. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IS PROVIDED TO TEACHERS AS A COMPONENT OF THE SCREENING PROCESS.
WE OWE A HUGE DEBT OF THANKS TO ASSEMBLYMEMBER CARROLL AND TO THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Assemblymember Robert Carroll and New York City Department of Education Announce Implementation of Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen
The New York City Department of Education and Assemblymember Robert Carroll recently announced that the NYCDOE has launched a pilot of the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen at two schools in Assemblymember Carroll’s Brooklyn district: PS 107 in Park Slope and PS 130 in Kensington. This pilot begins with a training webinar for school staff, followed by two weeks of screening for first and second graders.
The Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen is unusual in that it is an evidence-based, efficient, reliable, and user-friendly universal screening measure for K-3 students that will identify who may be at risk for dyslexia. It emphasizes phonological, linguistic, and academic performance based on classroom teacher observations, all in just a few minutes per student and at a very low cost. Dr. Sally Shaywitz created the screener and along with her husband, Dr. Bennett Shaywitz, are the founders of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity and are world-renowned physician-scientists and leaders in the field of dyslexia research and diagnosis. They have been working with Assemblymember Carroll on this issue since October 2018, and he has been an integral part in getting the pilot started in the two schools in his district.
“As someone who is dyslexic and benefited greatly from early detection, which allowed my teachers and parents to take proper curriculum interventions – I know that early childhood screening of dyslexia will change the academic lives of countless children,” Assemblymember Carroll said. “This pilot program at PS 107 and PS 130 is a first, but meaningful step towards identifying all children who are dyslexic in our public schools. Proper and universal identification of dyslexia will allow educators to take appropriate curriculum interventions which will invariably include multi-sensory sequential phonics. I applaud Chancellor Carranza and the NYC Department of Education for this courageous first step towards identifying all students with dyslexia by 2nd Grade. Additionally, I want to thank Principal Eve Litwack, Principal Maria Nunziata and all of the parents and dedicated advocates who helped make this possible.”
“As dedicated physician scientists our urgent wish has been to translate 21st century scientific knowledge of dyslexia into action,” Dr Sally and Dr. Bennett Shaywitz said. “Strong indicators point to a reading crisis – most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results show continuing declines in reading impacting our most vulnerable children with over a third of American children reading below even basic levels. While dyslexia is highly prevalent, affecting 1 in 5, dyslexic children are going unidentified, failing to learn to read leading to shame, loss of self-esteem, feeling that school is not for them and far too often ending up in prison where studies find 50% of inmates are dyslexic. Scientific data reveals the achievement gap between typical and dyslexic readers is already present by first grade and persists! With reading growth maximal the first few years of school and the reading gap already present at first grade, there is an urgent need to act and not to wait. These data converge to mandate early screening for dyslexia leading to early, effective, evidence-based intervention to insure that dyslexic children are taught to read. This screener follows federal law (PL 115-391) which mandates a ‘Dyslexia Screening Program… a screening program for dyslexia that is (A) evidence-based with proven psychometrics for validity; (B) efficient and low-cost; and (C) readily available.’ The Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen meets these criteria and is being welcomed nationally from Palo Alto, California, to the State of Missouri, and now to Brooklyn. Thanks to the strong actions of Brooklyn Assemblymember Robert Carroll and the NYC DOE this dream is now a reality.”
Good screeners are important, as they inform us as to who is at risk for reading failure. The anticipated cost for the entire pilot program for both schools combined is approximately $2,000 and 1st and 2nd Grade students at PS 107 and PS 130 will have access to the screener.
Additionally, Assemblymember Carroll has recently introduced legislation in the Assembly, A8786-A, which would establish a legislative task force on dyslexia and develop guidelines for appropriate screening, intervention, and support for students with and at risk of dyslexia across New York State.
And here in his own powerful words are Assemblymember Carroll’s comments on screening…
“Over the last year-and-a half I have been working with the Shaywitzes and the New York City Department of Education, along with other educators and advocates, in creating a pilot for a universal dyslexia screener in New York City public schools.
“As somebody who had the benefit of being identified early with dyslexia, it made the difference in my academic career. If I had not had an astute first grade teacher who noticed that there was something wrong with a bright, highly-verbal young man who had trouble spelling his name and reciting the ABC’s and thought that that could be a sign that I was in fact dyslexic and told my parents, and that my parents had the means and ability for me to have a full neuropsychological, if not for that early identification and intervention, I would not be where I am today.
“I was able to attend the Gateway School and went to middle school at The Windward School– both schools that specialize in teaching children who are dyslexic to become fluid and fluent readers. That intervention helped me to be successful in high school, college, law school, as an attorney and as a member of the New York state legislature. It provided me with the self-actualization in between college and law school to pursue a career in the arts, and I had a play that I wrote produced Off-Broadway.”
“Early identification of my dyslexia and the appropriate curriculum interventions have given me a life that is unencumbered by my dyslexia.
“The work that Sally and Bennett do, and the screener (if used properly and by school systems across the country) that they have created will allow for hundreds of thousands – if not millions of children to become fluid and fluent readers and for them to pursue their own dreams.
“Our schools are essentially controlled at the state and local level, and because of that, it is so important that both localities and states make well-informed decisions that are evidence-based when we make changes in public policy around curriculum, especially early childhood literacy.
“NYC public schools alone teaches 1.1 million children every year. Conservatively, 150,000-200,000 of those students are dyslexic. It makes no sense – when for the first time we have evidence-based screeners that are efficient, readily available, and have proven psychometrics – that we do not screen every single child in first and second grade for whether they are or are not at risk of being dyslexic. If we want to make real gains in literacy for all students, no matter their background, screening for dyslexia must be at the top of the list. Because with screening will come knowledge, and with that knowledge of who is and is not at risk, the proper curriculum interventions can be deployed, and we can make sure that every child in our schools is provided the proper foundation in reading and writing so he or she can be a successful student and adult.
“Currently, if you are a child who is dyslexic in our public school system in New York and your parents do not have the means to pay for a neuropsychological exam (which can cost upwards of $10,000) and have the wherewithal to sue the Department of Education, it is unlikely that you will ever read on grade level. We are relegating working class, poor, and immigrant dyslexic students – who are the vast majority of students in the NYC public school system and who are disproportionately Black and Latino – from ever reaching their potential. The single largest civil rights issue facing large, urban school districts is public officials, chancellors, school boards and policymakers turning a blind eye to quickly and efficiently identifying who is dyslexic in their schools and then providing those students with the proven evidence-based curriculum that will help make those students fluid and fluent readers.
“For too long, education policymakers have put their heads in the sand and pretended that there are many fewer dyslexic students in their classrooms, or that dyslexia itself was an overblown phenomenon, and consistently misled students and parents with time-old tropes about: children being late bloomers, children being young for their age, that they will grow out of it, that children catch on to reading at different times, that kids were making progress when in fact they were not. This has had devastating consequences, when parents of 4th, 5th, 6th ,7th graders start to realize that their dyslexic children need to learn to read and that in fact, their son or daughter cannot read. The money that society will have to spend on these individuals later in life will be exponentially higher than the money we need to spend today in making sure every dyslexic student gets the proper, appropriate, public education they deserve so that they can be successful and productive citizens.
“In New York State, we spend more per pupil than any other state in the nation, and I fully believe we should continue to spend the most per pupil, but that does not mean that we should not spend that money on evidence-based curriculums and on evidence-based screeners that will tell us who is at risk for dyslexia. We have the money. Unfortunately, we are spending that money on curriculums that are proven not to work on students who are dyslexic and we refuse to screen students, creating a cycle of failure that does not need to happen.
“It is monumental that we are now screening student in two public elementary schools in my district! If that happened when I was a student, I wouldn’t have to have been lucky, and have a teacher who noticed something about my reading and parents with the means to follow up to have my dyslexia diagnosed. We need to take the luck out of it. You used to have to be lucky and rich to get a proper diagnosis of dyslexia. With universal screening for dyslexia, every student will have the opportunity to get the support they need.
“Because New York City public schools are so diverse, if we can show that universal dyslexia screening works in these schools, it means that it universal screening for dyslexia can work in every single school district in America.
“As somebody who is dyslexic, and knowing full well that my future son or daughter might be dyslexic, we are fortunate in having people as thoughtful, compassionate and talented as Sally and Bennett Shaywitz dedicate their lives to making sure that every dyslexic student is given the opportunity to meet their own chosen goals. The essence of their work is so every American can look forward to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you as a dyslexic are denied an education, denied the ability to do the most basic things, if you have to go through life not being a good reader or writer because you weren’t given the proper education, you will not be able to achieve your full potential. The fact that Sally and Bennett have dedicated their life to helping children and adults with dyslexia is such a mitzvah. It’s a blessing and a gift. I am indebted to them for their work to destigmatize how we think about dyslexic people. I could not be more honored to work with them.”