TRL Webinar Recap – Navigating Dyslexia Policy
On Friday, July 15th, the Louisiana chapter of The Reading League hosted the webinar Navigating Dyslexia Policy and Ensuring Effective Implementation: A Review of Bulletin 1903, which provided educators and attendees across the state with the opportunity to learn about the revisions to Dyslexia policy brought about by this legislation. The guest speakers, Meredith Jordan, Executive Director of Diverse Learners at the LDOE, and Dr. Lisa Holliday-LeBoeuf, Supervisor of Literacy Professional Development at the LDOE, explained the updates in detail and illustrated the incredible impact that these policy changes will have on improving literacy outcomes for all students, particularly students that demonstrate characteristics of dyslexia.
This is the first time in 20 years that Dyslexia policy has been updated, thus marking a seminal moment for education policy, educators, and families across the state. The policy is grounded in the belief that all students can learn to read, and the proper systems and structures need to be in place for them to do so. The overarching goal of the workgroup that developed and eventually recommended these newly adopted revisions was to improve support for students with characteristics of dyslexia and to ensure all students in Louisiana have equitable access to the tools and resources necessary to succeed and meet rigorous academic goals. The workgroup was able to develop revisions that are in full alignment with this goal by adhering to a set of guiding principles:
- Create a policy that is accessible to school leaders and teachers
- Maintain focus on supporting students with characteristics of dyslexia
- Maximize the use of resources and structures already present in schools – eliminate the need for schools to purchase additional materials (i.e. screeners)
- Ensure accurate identification through an updated screening process
Most importantly, the revisions ensure that individual student needs are the driver of all decision-making. Each stage of the process, including referral, screening, development, and monitoring of instructional support plans, provides opportunities for differentiation based on individual students. The requirements for the duration and length of intervention are no longer determined by grade level, but rather by the needs of the student as identified through the screening and progress monitoring processes. The policy now gives schools a clear roadmap, differentiated by grade level, that can be used to identify students needing further screening beyond the required screeners, referral to SBLC (School Building Level Committee), and additional structured literacy interventions. The student-centered, data-driven, and responsive nature of these new processes will make certain that students demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia will receive instruction intended to address their specific needs and support their development in reading proficiency.
Two other particularly important factors were highlighted during the webinar:
- Tracking and monitoring progress is an integral part of determining the efficacy of the intervention and individual student support plan. In order to make sure that students receive the appropriate type, duration, and length of support, schools must have systems in place to regularly track student growth and progress.
- School leaders and instructional coaches must examine current instructional practices, in order to determine if they are effective, high quality, and in alignment with the principles of structured literacy. Students need access to high-quality instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Instruction needs to be explicit, systematic, cumulative, and diagnostic. Multisensory approaches should be woven throughout all forms of literacy instruction, and students should be provided with adequate opportunities to practice newly learned skills. If instruction at the Tier 1 level is ineffective, the structure and implementation of interventions will also suffer and will not have the magnitude of impact necessary to support all learners with reading proficiency.
The guest speakers also shared several resources that the LDOE has released to help schools navigate these important policy changes. The Guide to Dyslexia in Louisiana provides an overview of the revisions, the implications for schools, and a roadmap for ensuring effective implementation. The LDOE Dyslexia and Related Disorders Checklist is a comprehensive tool that school leaders and teachers can use to collect and synthesize all relevant data in an effort to identify students that may need additional classroom support or further screening. Additional documentation is also available to support schools with selecting a Universal Screener.
Overall, the information presented in the webinar illuminated the important progress that is being made to ensure that all students have access to high-quality literacy instruction and to the support they need to become proficient readers. The revisions and streamlined processes give school leaders and teachers the tools to accurately identify students demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia, and to develop diagnostic, prescriptive instructional plans to meet individual student needs.
This webinar was hosted and sponsored by The Center for Literacy & Learning, whose mission is to advance literacy and learning through evidence-based practices in the classroom, home, and community. A recording of the webinar and a copy of the slide deck are available on The Center’s website. Visit la.thereadingleague.org to sign-up to become a member of The Reading League Louisiana and to hear about future events.