- After Arkansas parent Kim Head discovered her kindergarten son had dyslexia, her search for curriculum that would address his learning disability highlighted the shortcomings in the education system's approach to reading — the work she did with him at home improved both his self-esteem and academic work, Education Week reports.
- The experience led Head to form an alliance with other families facing the same struggle, advocating for changes in reading instruction that included asking for new laws requiring the incorporation of phonics.
- Among new measures Arkansas has passed in the last seven years are those requiring dyslexia screening and teacher training on the disability, as well.
Dyslexia, which affects 20% of the population, according to The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, is a language-based learning disability. In serving students who have dyslexia, chief academic officers and others in district curriculum offices must ensure that all children have the same opportunities in reading instruction to achieve educational goals. Not all educational approaches are guaranteed to meet the needs of students who have this disability.
Only seven states have legislation that includes requirements addressing dyslexia screening, pre-service, in-service and intervention, according to data compiled by the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL), a partnership of literacy experts, researchers at universities and technical assistance providers with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. These seven states include New Hampshire, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, Texas and Florida, according to NCIL's online State of Dyslexia.
Phonics is one tool that educators in other states are also employing in classrooms to help all children learn to read, and it can be adopted by administrators who want to support their entire student body.