Family Engagement Forum Synopsis

Background

On June 4th, 2020, Issaquah School district held its first Dyslexia Family Engagement Forum, via Zoom. During this event Teaching & Learning Services and Special Services directors shared about current efforts toward planning and training around the needs of students with Dyslexia. Then, in breakout groups, parents shared areas of interest to inform future engagement events. The synopsis below reports back the themes ISD received during this event to inform future planning of engagement events, communications and our planning to meet the needs of students with dyslexia.

For each theme, a guiding question has been generated. The question has been translated from a parent voice, to how ISD interprets the questions families are asking in light of the dyslexia guidance provided by the state of Washington (OSPI). Following the guiding question are desired outcomes expressed at the forum related to the theme. Finally, to capture the voices heard in this forum, this synopsis includes samples of the experiences shared by families.

Themes in Family Engagement Input

CREATING A WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

Guiding question: How will ISD foster an inclusive and welcoming environment for students with dyslexia and their families?

Desired Outcomes

  • Staff and students welcome students with dyslexia, recognizing both strengths and needs
  • Staff welcome parent insight into their students’ needs and strengths
  • Schools establish a productive partnership with parents
  • Students are accepting of differences without making those with differences feel less-than

Experiences shared at the forum

  • Student felt ‘dumb’ or felt that other student thought she was dumb, lots of expressions of stress as students are not reading at the level of their peers
  • Teased by other students
  • Experiences shared of times when a teacher was not available or receptive to a conversation about parent concerns about dyslexia
  • Stress and anxiety as common among students with dyslexia.

TEACHER TRAINING

Guiding question: How will ISD train teachers to understand dyslexia and use research-based instructional strategies to address the learning needs of students with dyslexia?

Desired Outcomes

  • Teachers identify the manifestation of dyslexia and understand the learning needs as well as related strengths of students with dyslexia
  • Teachers apply research-based instructional strategies to address the learning needs of students with dyslexia
  • Secondary teachers of all content understand dyslexia and the learning needs and strengths associated with dyslexia so that they can scaffold / adjust to help students with dyslexia be successful across content areas.

Experiences shared at the forum

  • Teacher said dyslexia isn’t a real thing or won’t acknowledge dyslexia as a diagnosis (even during IEP process)
  • Teachers not able to discuss dyslexia, unfamiliar with the disability
  • Huge difference between when the teacher understands dyslexia and provides accommodations and when a teacher doesn’t or doesn’t show interest
  • The personal connection with teacher has been key. When the teacher shows understanding and connects interpersonally with the student, the student is more likely to make strides. When the connection is missing challenges, stress/anxiety, and shutdown increase and learning decreases.
  • Teachers not knowing the educational needs of students with dyslexia
  • Significant trouble accessing the gen-ed curriculum, especially in middle and high school. When teachers know how to accommodate needs their kids were able to be successful, but it the teacher didn’t it created stress, frustration and failure.

IDENTIFICATION AND QUALIFICATION OF SERVICES

Guiding question: How will ISD proactively and systematically identify students with reading difficulties associated with dyslexia, and identify the tier of services needed to address each student’s need?

Desired Outcomes

  • Establish a common understanding of the definition of dyslexia
  • Establish a comprehensive assessment system that includes a universal dyslexia screener, kindergarten through second grade.
  • Ensure intervention matching so that research-based intervention programs are appropriately applied.
  • Allocate resources to meet the needs of students with reading difficulties associated with dyslexia

Experiences shared at the forum

  • Identification of need that is too late – based on a deficit model rather than proactive.
  • Being denied or not offered Title/LAP services
  • 504 accommodations not being provided by all teachers
  • No IEP referral made even when the student wasn’t making progress
  • Couldn’t access middle school texts and no help was provided
  • Was told there wasn’t enough money to provide additional services
  • No access to audio texts or other resources
  • No access to extended learning (after school, summers…)
  • Testing that was ineffective, not proactive and way to slow or cumbersome

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMING & ACCESS

Guiding question: How will ISD make adjustments to their educational program to ensure the needs of students with dyslexia are met and students can access their general education course work?

Desired Outcomes

  • Students receive the instruction / intervention needed according to diagnostic assessment results
  • Instructional practices and intervention programs utilize research-based strategies

Experiences shared at the forum

  • Tutoring or private programs were needed to help the student
  • Several expressed that the approach used for instruction and intervention at the schools did not match research-based practices for students with dyslexia

PROGRESS MONITORING AND GAP CLOSING

Guiding question: How will ISD monitor student progress and adjust individual learning plans so that students with dyslexia close achievement gaps and access general education learning?

Desired Outcomes

  • Teachers use progress monitoring assessments to inform instruction, adjust learning plans and ensure student growth
  • Progress monitoring &/or benchmark assessment data is systematically reviewed to ensure the efficacy of instruction and intervention programs in closing achievement gaps

Experiences shared at the forum

  • Student was always 1-2 years behind and nothing different was done

FAMILY ENGAGEMENT

Guiding question: How will ISD engage collaboratively with families to establish learning goals, develop learning plans and solve problems?

Desired Outcomes

  • Establish and maintain effective school-family partnerships
  • Include family voice and partnership in strengths-based problem solving and developing learning plans
  • Families are provided resources for supporting their student’s learning and schools are provided knowledge of the student that is essential in planning for the student’s learning

Experiences shared at the forum

  • Participants shared that they felt left out of their student’s education
  • Participants felt that they had insights that could help teachers but that too often their input was not well received

DYSLEXIA RESOURCE GUIDE AND TIMELINE

Guiding questions: How is ISD planning or guiding resources for meeting the needs of students with dyslexia? What is the timeline for change? How can families be involved as decisions are made?

Desired Outcomes

  • Development of a dyslexia resource guide that clearly articulates the MTSS systems, processes and resources for addressing the needs of students with dyslexia
  • Articulation of a timeline for implementing resources and systems
  • Opportunity for families to have a voice in informing and supporting a district-wide approach to meeting the needs of students with dyslexia

Experiences shared at the forum

  • Families are not aware of any district planning for helping students with dyslexia
  • Families expressed that ISD hasn’t acknowledgement that a plan is needed
  • Some expressed that they did not feel that teachers or schools were accountable to serving all students with best practices