Dr. Norm Forman, Navigating the IEP & IPRC Process – A Decoding Dyslexia Ontario Webinar

Decoding Dyslexia – Ontario held an information session and webinar on Saturday October 28, 2017, at Beaches Reading Clinic, featuring Dr. Norm Forman. We learned a great deal about the IEP/IPRC process and how parents can effectively advocate for their children.

Dr. Forman is a Registered Psychologist with a Doctor of Education degree who has specialized in parent/child advocacy issues for over twenty years. He is also the author of Exceptional Children Ordinary Schools: Getting the Education You Want for Your Special Needs Child. Based on his book, Dr. Forman developed Parent Advocacy Training Programs for the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada and the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario which were made available on the Web.

Dr. Forman was a member of the TDSB Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) for many years. He consults with parents, families and schools.

Read more: http://www.parentsadvocacy.com/parentsadvocacy/who-we-are

Thanks very much to Monica from Beaches Reading Clinic, and Dr. Norm Forman, for working with us to provide valuable information for parents and their children.

This is the recording of the webinar. If you have any questions, or would like further information, message us, or send an email to saydyslexiacanada@gmail.com

 

 

For Ontario’s current struggling readers and for those yet to come: Please join us.

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. For its part, Decoding Dyslexia Ontario has coordinated a webinar on Saturday October 28 about Ontario’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) and IPRC (Identification, Placement, and Review Committee). As well, we initiated some “Coffee Chats” in Ontario communities to go and meet new parents.

What we ask of you is to SayDyslexiaCanada. Moreover, please use our Facebook page and platform as your own on-line community: a place to enable greater education, discussions, and outreach regarding Dyslexia.

Currently in Ontario, if you have a child with Dyslexia they are most likely to be identified between Grades 4 and 6 and already be at least one grade level behind in their reading. Additionally, if your child falls below “Level 3” in the Grade 3 EQAO for reading and writing, there is a higher probability that they will not be able to fully catch up.  For many children, that will mean they can’t take academic stream level courses at secondary school.  Even more worrisome is the much higher drop-out rate for students with learning disabilities.

We need your help to raise the awareness of Dyslexia not only in October but throughout the year.

The world has become a smaller place thanks to the Net and Social Media.

We know that children should be screened for Dyslexia in Kindergarten.

We know that all primary age school children deserve Best Practice evidence-based reading instruction, methods which were studied and laid out in the US National Read Panel Report of 2000.

We know when some children fail to read even after using scientifically tested teaching methods, these children need to be quickly identified and provided with systematic and explicit structured literacy-based reading instruction as promoted by the International Dyslexia Association.

Waiting to fail is no longer an acceptable option.

We are a fully parent-driven volunteer organization. We welcome your ideas, your talents, your networks, and your determination to create change. For Ontario’s current struggling readers and for those yet to come: Please join us.

 

Links and Contacts

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DecodingDyslexiaOntario/

Twitter – https://twitter.com – @dyslexiaON

Email – saydyslexiacanada@gmail.com

 

 

 

Canada-focused research on education

Through the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada* (CMEC), since at least 2009, Canada’s Provincial Ministers of Education have been aware that the lack of identification and interventions for dyslexia is a contributing factor to the problems encountered by students in Canada achieving success in Literacy. CMEC is a good source of Canada-focused research and has many publications with valuable guidance and information.

The following excerpts from CMEC documents highlight a portion of the information that has been available for members of the public, school boards and ministries of education. And yet, the 1 in 5 students with dyslexia, in Ontario and across Canada, are still going without the identification, intervention and support they require.

From the document Key factors to support literacy success in school-age populations – A literature review by CMEC and Statistics Canada (2009):

“Special Considerations: Kindergarten to grade 3 students

Kindergarten and early intervention: Ninety per cent of eligible Canadian children attend kindergarten, which is available but not compulsory in all provinces and territories. Kindergarten is the first school-based opportunity for early intervention with children at risk for reading difficulties. With appropriate intervention in kindergarten, children can enter grade 1 ready to read.

In the K–3 years, all children should be taught to read in their regular classroom. Children who need additional instruction can participate in small groups that are provided in addition to the whole-class instruction they receive in their regular classroom.

Class size and instructional time: Having a small number of students in one class does not guarantee effective educational practice unless accompanied by professional development and planning for, with, and by the teachers, which must be available to support the desired changes”

“Special considerations: Middle and secondary school students

The need for explicit reading instruction in both middle schools and secondary schools

Many of the students who reach secondary school have problems in comprehension, inadequate vocabulary, insufficient background knowledge, poor reading fluency, and little or no motivation to read. These students need to develop appropriate levels of proficiency to learn from the textbooks that include conceptual and technical language in the different curriculum areas. The students who drop out of school as soon as their age allows are likely to be poor readers. (Maughan, Hagell, Rutter, and Yule 1994; Knighton and Bussière 2006).”

“Children with learning disabilities

Research on children with learning disabilities (LD) shows the importance of early identification of these difficulties because if such children fall behind in kindergarten and grade 1, they will, without intervention, fall further and further behind over time (Lyon 1995, as cited in Lipka and Siegel 2007).

The reading skills that are particularly important for students who have reading disabilities to acquire should be taught using direct and explicit instruction — phonological processing (including phonemic awareness and phonics) and reading comprehension. Students should be provided with opportunities to practise these skills through sustained and extensive time engaged in literacy activities. Teachers may support struggling readers in the classroom by having books at various reading levels (O’Connor, Bell, Harty, Larkin, Sackor, and Zigmond 2002) and by using resources such as technology (MacArthur, Ferretti, Okolo, and Cavalier 2001).”

From a 2009 report called An Examination of Barriers to Pursuing PSE (Post-Secondary Education) and Potential Solutions:

“A significant minority of students participating in focus groups reported having learning disabilities, which, according to them, caused them to struggle with school. Students with learning disabilities and parents of these students suggested that many schools are not adequately equipped to meet their special needs. Specifically, teachers are not properly trained to recognize students who may have special needs. A few parents said they had to pay out of their own pockets to have their child tested. When teachers do not take the necessary steps to ensure that students who may have special needs are formally identified (e.g., through the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee), they ultimately prevent them from getting the help they need to succeed. One student with dyslexia, who was not diagnosed until later in secondary school, said that his teachers made no effort to help him, treating him as though he was “worthless”. This caused the student to suffer from low self-esteem and extreme anxiety, eventually making it very difficult for him to perform. A few students and parents of students who had been formally identified as having special needs reported that teachers did not adjust the curriculum to accommodate their students (e.g., alter programs in terms of content, process, product and evaluation). They also suggested that resources were not made available to help these students. Students with learning disabilities who were not given the proper attention they needed typically obtained low grades, suffered from low self-esteem, feared failure  and disliked school. This was a major barrier, not only to PSE, but also to graduating from high school.”

These nearly decade old recommendations fly in the face of Ontario’s newly revamped 2016 Kindergarten Program which is dominated by inquiry-based learning with no requirement to identify, assess, monitor and intervene with our youngest students with possible dyslexia or other reading challenges.

Decoding Dyslexia has been asking Ontario’s Ministry of Education to introduce a province-wide policy which would require that all Kindergarten students be assessed and identified for dyslexia and other reading challenges [i.e. some English Language Learners (ELLs)]. Such policies exist in many U.S. states, most recently Texas. On an individual level, such an early reading assessment policy and intervention would close a reading learning gap before it becomes a chasm. Children with dyslexia would increase their self-esteem and would re-engage a group which over the course of their grade-school education will get bullied at higher rates than average and will drop out of high school at a significantly higher rate than the average student (approx. 30%). In March 2017, the Canadian Human Rights Commission acknowledged the challenges these students face throughout their childhood education and adulthood (For persons with disabilities in Canada, education is not always an open door: CHRC report, March 9, 2017).

*The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) is an intergovernmental body founded in 1967 by ministers of education to serve as:

  • a forum to discuss policy issues;
  • a mechanism through which to undertake activities, projects, and initiatives in areas of mutual interest;
  • a means by which to consult and cooperate with national education organizations and the federal government; and
  • an instrument to represent the education interests of the provinces and territories internationally.

CMEC resources with references to dyslexia:

CMEC > Programs and Initiatives > Literacy > Yukon

… continue to be trained in a specific reading program that addresses the learning styles of students with language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.

www.cmec.ca/234/Programs-and-Initiatives/Literacy/…/index.html

CMEC > Programs and Initiatives > Literacy > New Brunswick

Since 2008-09, the New Brunswick Department of Education has recommended highly specific interventions for students with dyslexia, who now receive …

www.cmec.ca/225/Programs-and-Initiatives/Literacy/…/index.html

 Key Factors to Support Literacy Success in School-Aged Populations

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

Page 1. KEY FACTORS. TO SUPPORT. LITERACY SUCCESS. IN SCHOOL- AGED. POPULATIONS. A LITERATURE REVIEW. CANADIAN EDUCATION …

www.cmec.ca/Publications/…/key-factors-literacy-school-aged.pdf

Assessment Matters!

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

the test but unable to access it because of a special need, such as hearing or visual impairment, dyslexia, or physical impairment, the same policy may be …

www.cmec.ca/…/Lists/…/Assessment%20Matters_No%2010_EN.pdf

 Progress Report on Literacy 2009

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

as dyslexia. It may also be beneficial to students who lack basic reading and spelling skills. Yukon is engaged in ongoing professional and community dialogue.

www.cmec.ca/Publications/…/cmec-literacy-progress-report-2009.pdf

An Examination of Barriers to Pursuing PSE and Potential Solutions

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

May 25, 2008 dyslexia, who was not diagnosed until later in secondary school, said that his teachers made no effort to help him, treating him as though he …

www.cmec.ca/…/EKOS-FINAL-16-03-09-An-exam-of-barriers-EN.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Canada-focused research on education

Through the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada* (CMEC), since at least 2009, Canada’s Provincial Ministers of Education have been aware that the lack of identification and interventions for dyslexia is a contributing factor to the problems encountered by students in Canada achieving success in Literacy. CMEC is a good source of Canada-focused research and has many publications with valuable guidance and information.

The following excerpts from CMEC documents highlight a portion of the information that has been available for members of the public, school boards and ministries of education. And yet, the 1 in 5 students with dyslexia, in Ontario and across Canada, are still going without the identification, intervention and support they require.

From the document Key factors to support literacy success in school-age populations – A literature review by CMEC and Statistics Canada (2009):

“Special Considerations: Kindergarten to grade 3 students

Kindergarten and early intervention: Ninety per cent of eligible Canadian children attend kindergarten, which is available but not compulsory in all provinces and territories. Kindergarten is the first school-based opportunity for early intervention with children at risk for reading difficulties. With appropriate intervention in kindergarten, children can enter grade 1 ready to read.

In the K–3 years, all children should be taught to read in their regular classroom. Children who need additional instruction can participate in small groups that are provided in addition to the whole-class instruction they receive in their regular classroom.

Class size and instructional time: Having a small number of students in one class does not guarantee effective educational practice unless accompanied by professional development and planning for, with, and by the teachers, which must be available to support the desired changes”

“Special considerations: Middle and secondary school students

The need for explicit reading instruction in both middle schools and secondary schools

Many of the students who reach secondary school have problems in comprehension, inadequate vocabulary, insufficient background knowledge, poor reading fluency, and little or no motivation to read. These students need to develop appropriate levels of proficiency to learn from the textbooks that include conceptual and technical language in the different curriculum areas. The students who drop out of school as soon as their age allows are likely to be poor readers. (Maughan, Hagell, Rutter, and Yule 1994; Knighton and Bussière 2006).”

“Children with learning disabilities

Research on children with learning disabilities (LD) shows the importance of early identification of these difficulties because if such children fall behind in kindergarten and grade 1, they will, without intervention, fall further and further behind over time (Lyon 1995, as cited in Lipka and Siegel 2007).

The reading skills that are particularly important for students who have reading disabilities to acquire should be taught using direct and explicit instruction — phonological processing (including phonemic awareness and phonics) and reading comprehension. Students should be provided with opportunities to practise these skills through sustained and extensive time engaged in literacy activities. Teachers may support struggling readers in the classroom by having books at various reading levels (O’Connor, Bell, Harty, Larkin, Sackor, and Zigmond 2002) and by using resources such as technology (MacArthur, Ferretti, Okolo, and Cavalier 2001).”

From a 2009 report called An Examination of Barriers to Pursuing PSE (Post-Secondary Education) and Potential Solutions:

“A significant minority of students participating in focus groups reported having learning disabilities, which, according to them, caused them to struggle with school. Students with learning disabilities and parents of these students suggested that many schools are not adequately equipped to meet their special needs. Specifically, teachers are not properly trained to recognize students who may have special needs. A few parents said they had to pay out of their own pockets to have their child tested. When teachers do not take the necessary steps to ensure that students who may have special needs are formally identified (e.g., through the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee), they ultimately prevent them from getting the help they need to succeed. One student with dyslexia, who was not diagnosed until later in secondary school, said that his teachers made no effort to help him, treating him as though he was “worthless”. This caused the student to suffer from low self-esteem and extreme anxiety, eventually making it very difficult for him to perform. A few students and parents of students who had been formally identified as having special needs reported that teachers did not adjust the curriculum to accommodate their students (e.g., alter programs in terms of content, process, product and evaluation). They also suggested that resources were not made available to help these students. Students with learning disabilities who were not given the proper attention they needed typically obtained low grades, suffered from low self-esteem, feared failure  and disliked school. This was a major barrier, not only to PSE, but also to graduating from high school.”

These nearly decade old recommendations fly in the face of Ontario’s newly revamped 2016 Kindergarten Program which is dominated by inquiry-based learning with no requirement to identify, assess, monitor and intervene with our youngest students with possible dyslexia or other reading challenges.

Decoding Dyslexia has been asking Ontario’s Ministry of Education to introduce a province-wide policy which would require that all Kindergarten students be assessed and identified for dyslexia and other reading challenges [i.e. some English Language Learners (ELLs)]. Such policies exist in many U.S. states, most recently Texas. On an individual level, such an early reading assessment policy and intervention would close a reading learning gap before it becomes a chasm. Children with dyslexia would increase their self-esteem and would re-engage a group which over the course of their grade-school education will get bullied at higher rates than average and will drop out of high school at a significantly higher rate than the average student (approx. 30%). In March 2017, the Canadian Human Rights Commission acknowledged the challenges these students face throughout their childhood education and adulthood (For persons with disabilities in Canada, education is not always an open door: CHRC report, March 9, 2017).

*The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) is an intergovernmental body founded in 1967 by ministers of education to serve as:

  • a forum to discuss policy issues;
  • a mechanism through which to undertake activities, projects, and initiatives in areas of mutual interest;
  • a means by which to consult and cooperate with national education organizations and the federal government; and
  • an instrument to represent the education interests of the provinces and territories internationally.

CMEC resources with references to dyslexia:

CMEC > Programs and Initiatives > Literacy > Yukon

… continue to be trained in a specific reading program that addresses the learning styles of students with language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.

www.cmec.ca/234/Programs-and-Initiatives/Literacy/…/index.html

CMEC > Programs and Initiatives > Literacy > New Brunswick

Since 2008-09, the New Brunswick Department of Education has recommended highly specific interventions for students with dyslexia, who now receive …

www.cmec.ca/225/Programs-and-Initiatives/Literacy/…/index.html

 Key Factors to Support Literacy Success in School-Aged Populations

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

Page 1. KEY FACTORS. TO SUPPORT. LITERACY SUCCESS. IN SCHOOL- AGED. POPULATIONS. A LITERATURE REVIEW. CANADIAN EDUCATION …

www.cmec.ca/Publications/…/key-factors-literacy-school-aged.pdf

Assessment Matters!

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

the test but unable to access it because of a special need, such as hearing or visual impairment, dyslexia, or physical impairment, the same policy may be …

www.cmec.ca/…/Lists/…/Assessment%20Matters_No%2010_EN.pdf

 Progress Report on Literacy 2009

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

as dyslexia. It may also be beneficial to students who lack basic reading and spelling skills. Yukon is engaged in ongoing professional and community dialogue.

www.cmec.ca/Publications/…/cmec-literacy-progress-report-2009.pdf

An Examination of Barriers to Pursuing PSE and Potential Solutions

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

May 25, 2008 dyslexia, who was not diagnosed until later in secondary school, said that his teachers made no effort to help him, treating him as though he …

www.cmec.ca/…/EKOS-FINAL-16-03-09-An-exam-of-barriers-EN.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Letter to the Editor – Toronto Star

Letter to the Editor

Toronto Star

Re: “Ontario budget puts focus on children’s well-being,” April 27, 2017

As parents of children with dyslexia, a reading disability that affects 1 in 5 children in Ontario, we were interested to read the TO Star article, “Ontario budget puts focus on children’s well-being,” April 27, 2017.

We applaud the province’s funding for children’s mental health and well-being in the 2017 budget, and their recognition that this support must start early.

We hope that this support will be extended to the many children with dyslexia who struggle to read and write currently with little to no support in Ontario elementary schools. EQAO data shows that without support in the early years, many dyslexic students are not equipped to take academic-level courses in high school nor will they pass the Grade 10 literacy exam on their first attempt. At least 30% will drop out. They grow into adults who struggle to find meaningful work. Many, after spending their childhood struggling to learn, suffer long-term self-esteem, anxiety, and other more serious mental health issues.

There is good news: evidence shows that children with dyslexia can be identified and taught to read with specialized instruction as early as kindergarten — preventing a lifetime of struggle. Many families hire private tutors to get that instruction, while many others can’t afford the expense. Given that the province has pledged some $49 million for children’s mental health and wellness in the 2017 budget, mainly through school-based programs, what better time than now to provide support to all dyslexic children in our schools? Doing so would lead to significant improvements in the mental health and well-being of children in Ontario.

​Annette​ Sang

Decoding Dyslexia Ontario

Ontario parents applaud US special education ruling

We, parents of dyslexic children, are delighted with the March 22, page A10, story in the Toronto Star, regarding the US Supreme Court’s ruling for a Denver CO boy whose public education was ‘essentially stalled’ whereby his parents pulled him from public school and enrolled him in a specialty private school where he would get the support he needed to thrive. The ruling in Endrew F. vs Douglas County School District states it is not enough for schools to offer minimal instruction for students with special needs. Instead, schools must offer an education program “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances” and that the essential function of the educational plan is to “set out a plan for pursuing academic and functional advancement.”  The US Supreme Court also ruled that the public school board would have to pay for the boys’ private school education since ‘minimal’ education targets for the disabled is not enough.

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down nominee Neil Gorsuch’s decision on autism

The struggle to obtain appropriate education for a learning disabled child is all too common for Ontario families. Dyslexia, the most common learning disability, is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Children with dyslexia face frustration, sadness, anxiety, and unfulfilled potential when they are not provided with effective reading instruction.

Definition of Dyslexia – International Dyslexia Association

For parents of children with dyslexia, there is ample scientific evidence that their challenges can be greatly minimized if they are assessed early and that explicit and systematic phonics-based language instruction begins as soon as possible. As per the National Panel on Reading Report of 2000, this method of language instruction is scientifically proven to ensure that all young students become better readers with greater literacy skills; but it is the essential method to teach students that have some degree of dyslexia which can range from mild to severe.

Without early education services targeted specifically to their learning needs, Ontario school board and EQAO data clearly demonstrate achievement gaps: many these of dyslexic students will not be prepared to take academic-level courses in high school nor will they pass the Grade 10 literacy exam on their first attempt. Furthermore, they will become so discouraged with the whole education system that up to 30%* of them will drop out. The students that stick-it-out through high school will more-often-than-not be forced to take five years to graduate rather than four years like their classmates.

*Toronto District School Board – December 2010 Special Education: Structural Overview, pages 27 & 28.

*Ottawa-Carlton District School Board – February 2017, Equity Report, page 13.

If parents have the financial means, they’ll assess their child’s situation privately to decide whether to engage tutors; home school; or perhaps transfer to a private school that has the expertise to teach students with dyslexia. However, the majority of people in Ontario cannot afford this choice. If the student’s family is low-income or lives in poverty, if the parents did not graduate themselves because they too have dyslexia (dyslexia is known to be highly inheritable), the options are to beg the school for help. All parents of disabled children want education equity for their child – the right to maximize their child’s potential and this should be available in our public schools.

It has been five years since a similar defence for learning disabled rights to public education was put forth by the Supreme Court of Canada. In the Moore vs. British Columbia (Education) decision of 2012, Canada’s highest court stated: “…the reason children are entitled to an education is that a healthy democracy and economy require their educated contribution. Adequate special education, therefore, is not a dispensable luxury. For those with severe learning disabilities, it is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia.

ONBIDA Successful at Supreme Court of Canada in Moore v British Columbia (Ministry of Education)

Moore v. British Columbia (Education) 2012 SCC 61, [2012] 3 S.C.R. 360, 2012-11-09

With the recent ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States has defended the rights of students with learning differences to maximize their future potential. Moreover, if the local public education system cannot, or will not, prioritize the success of these students to have similar, equitable outcomes to the general student body parents have the right to have the public school system fund the private school education that will improve the outcome their disabled child. To paraphrase Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn) observation, the addition of the word ‘minimal’ to education targets created a ceiling more than a floor.

The Ontario Human Rights Code guarantees the right of all children access to education without discrimination on the basis of disability, and yet for so many children with dyslexia, this is not happening in the context of our publicly funded education system.

Decoding Dyslexia Ontario believes that reading is the most crucial skill a child can gain, necessary for a successful school and life experience. We encourage policy makers & decision makers from all three parties in Ontario to recognize this tragedy affecting the 1 in 5 children with dyslexia. Please ensure that Ontario’s education policy and actions protect the right to an equitable education for children with learning differences, including dyslexia, as the Supreme Court of Canada has required, and the U.S. Supreme Court has just done South of the border.

Links to news and articles on the decision:

U.S. Supreme Court Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, March 22, 2017

IDA Applauds Supreme Court Decision in Endrew F vs Douglas County School District

How a New Supreme Court Ruling Could Affect Special Education

 

 

Decoding Dyslexia Ontario Needs You!

If you are a parent or family member of a student with dyslexia, and want to lend your skills to create change, Decoding Dyslexia Ontario needs you! We are seeking people who have skills in the following areas: finance, law (education, human rights, advocacy), media relations, marketing, research & government relations.

If you are interested, please join us for our open meeting on Saturday the 11th of February from 1-4 pm at Queen Elizabeth Park Community Centre in Oakville, Ontario (2304 Bridge Road, Oakville, ON, L6L 3L5).

RSVP by messaging the page or emailing us at decodingdyslexiaon@gmail.com. Hope to see you there!