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The IEP song and dance

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by Kimberly Downey

The independent educational plan (IEP) song and dance creates the impression that important activity is occurring for students, even though the reality is that very little is accomplished. 

Parents must learn how to turn that around by understanding their rights and drawing clear boundaries to limit and focus what the school does.

For those students who are eligible for an IEP, the supplemental instruction for which the law states they are entitled, can interfere with their progress with the Barton Reading & Spelling System. Please know that many students with dyslexia are not found eligible, but that is a topic for another post.

One might think that more instruction can only be better for a student with dyslexia, but that is not the case. There is no credible research that shows that a student can receive one-on-one, intensive, Orton-Gillingham based tutoring for his dyslexia and also participate in another reading remediation program. More help is only beneficial if it is the right type of instruction.

Mixing methods will create confusion and hinder a student’s progress. Schools have legal obligations to students with IEPs, so it’s important that parents make it clear in writing that their child’s reading and spelling difficulties are being remediated through private tutoring.

Sadly, even in a highly regarded system such as Fairfax County Public Schools, the right instruction for dyslexic students is not currently available. There are many reasons for this that I describe in other posts, but lack of teacher training, ignorance about the science of reading, and inadequate staffing are a few.

The ideal instruction for students with dyslexia is one-on-one. The smallest group I have heard of in FCPS is one special education teacher for five students, and typically the size is much larger. In addition, many schools ‘cherry pick’ from a variety of programs in an attempt to help struggling readers. Again, research does not support this approach.

Parents who are looking to improve their child’s reading and spelling deficits must seek outside help, as early as possible, if they are to prevent their child from falling further and further behind her peers. Once that help is obtained, it is essential that the focus at school shifts to accommodating the student’s challenges.

This short 8-minute video from Susan Barton explains the issues I’ve described above.

To learn more about my advocacy consultation services, please schedule a free 20-minute initial phone consultation.

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Think your child might be dyslexic?

At least one in five of us in the United States is dyslexic — maybe more. And if you’re reading this, it’s most likely because you believe someone close to you could be among them. 

If they’re showing three or more of these warning signs and haven’t had a diagnosis yet, we highly recommend completing NeuroLearning’s Dyslexia Screening Test for a fast, accurate, assessment.