kitchen table math, the sequel: iatrogenic LD

Saturday, June 27, 2009

iatrogenic LD

Vicky S asks:
What percentage of identified learning disabilities do you suppose is inadvertantly caused by our schools, their teaching methods, and curricula?
I've been trying to suss this out for a while now. This week I found an estimate of the percent of reading problems that could be prevented:
We estimate that the number of children who are typically identified as poor readers and served through either special education or compensatory education programs (as well as children with significant reading difficulties who are not formally identified and served) could be reduced by up to 70 percent through early identification and prevention programs.

Chapter 12: Rethinking Learning Disabilities (pdf file)
Reid Lyon, Jack M. Fletcher, Sally E. Shaywitz, Bennett A. Shaywitz, Joseph K. Torgesen, Frank B. Wood, Ann Schulte, and Richard Olson
Rethinking Special Education for a New Century
I have the impression that most kids identified as having learning disabilities are struggling readers but if palisadesk or Liz Ditz are around they can let us know whether that's correct.


RMD said...

"early identification and prevention programs"

What about just better reading instruction?

I've started to use Blend Phonics with my 4 year old and it's hard to imagine not being successful with it!

Catherine Johnson said...


I am SO frustrated here in my district. Apparently we had Open Court for a brief shining moment (though I find it hard to believe it was used as a true phonics program).

Now we're dumping it & buying Fountas & Pinnell.

We have 5.5 remedial reading teachers for the gen-ed kids already.

Will we need more?

(Possibly not since I'm fairly sure the school has always used balanced literacy...)

It's infuriating nonetheless.

I have to pay for Fountas & Pinnell & a significant number of the kids will have to pay when they don't learn to read like all the other kids and they have to be 'helped.'

Catherine Johnson said...

Here is Blend Phonics.

I have to make sure I've got Don Potter on the sidebar.

Anonymous said...

Grrrr. How true! Having an Ed plan (assuming you actually have someone to execute the plan) is NOT a good thing.

In my district, the Super (Lewis Carol) tells the red queen,

"Lower the challenge, reduce the load, just give 'em templates 'til their heads explode. Students who struggle need less work not more. Teachers who fight me, I'll show them the door."

I'm kidding, really! My super is not Lewis Carol. Yet, I've never understood the theory that says reducing the challenge increases the performance. That's what ed plans do isn't it?

Liz Ditz said...

The Best Kept Secret in Special Education

by Robin Hansen, March 29, 2009
SF Special Education Examiner

Most college special education masters programs do not include comprehensive instruction in reading for dyslexics.
Yet, dyslexics or children with reading disorders make up 70-80% of the special education students. Is there any wonder why special education reading scores are so low?

How does this happen?

At best, most potential teachers will get just an overview in reading, Few colleges, if any teach one of the few methodologies proven by the International Dyslexia Association. These methodologies are taught by private companies or certified individuals, not colleges.

The owners of the methodologies are not big text book publishers like Harcourt, SRA, etc that can afford lobbyists to push state politicians and administrators to approve their curriculum's. Publishers make money by selling hundreds of thousands of text books.

True research based proven methodologies for dyslexics are multi-sensory based. The original is Orton Gillingham. The rest are based on the theories of Orton Gillingham are Wilson, Slingerland and Spaulding.

The exception to the rule is Lindamood Bell LiPS (Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing) which is a proven multi-sensory methodology. link

Liz Ditz said...

The Best Kept Secret in Special Education

In order to use these methodologies properly, teachers must have intensive instruction, consistent mentoring and follow up. Teachers cannot go to a two day or one week workshop and then come back and teach the rest of the staff. Unfortunately, this is the current model in SFUSD. Last years professional development calendar did not include a single workshop in reading instruction for dyslexics.

For the last 90 years nationwide, college teacher training programs and public schools have ignored the fact that Orton Gillingham (O-G) methodology works for dyslexic children, to the detriments of millions of children and society as a whole. Famous dyslexic Special Education attorney Pete Wright had a very hard time in school and was taught to read using Orton Gillingham methodology.

Ironically, Pete would advocate for a dyslexic girl named Shannon Carter in front of the supreme court. He would win a unanimous decision in 1993. The court ruled that the public school did not provide Shannon Carter with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The court ruled to reimburse the parents who found an adequate private school which taught Shannon via the Orton Gillingham method.

There have been cases all over the country where the few parents who do fight back win when it comes to poor reading instruction. Even the dimmest hearing officer recognizes a child that can't read! With so much evidence available, one would think public schools would get the message, but they don't. Right now the deck is very much stacked against parents with the Office of Administrative Hearings in California. School districts win about 90% of the time. But even in that poisonous climate, a San Francisco Unified School District's "legal expert consultant" took a reading case to Court and lost. This student won 200 hours of Lindamood Bell tutoring. Read decision here

Is this how we spend money from the "rainy day" education fund? How much did this trial cost? Wouldn't it be a better idea to teach children how to read?

While politicians, educators,and administrators argue over reading, few listen to the sound, well researched International Dyslexia Association. With the advent of MRI's, whole new waves of understanding and research about how well these methodologies work have been published. There have been articles in Newsweek, great documentaries of powerful evidence of neuroscience but the public school officials and college special education departments still don't pay attention.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) demanded evidence based reading programs with research behind them. Great idea. Except all kinds of educational publishers eager to get their piece of the money pie, came up with watered down text books and programs claiming to have O-G traits pushed their wares on gullible public school administrators who do not have the knowledge to be educated consumers. Publishers were just interested in just making money. School district administrators do not understand the difference between the "at risk" population vs Specific Learning Disabled population.
Neuroscience has proven beyond a doubt over and over that these are the methodologies that work.

It's a local and national shame.

SteveH said...

".. I've never understood the theory that says reducing the challenge increases the performance."

This is the "less is more" educational thinking that I've run into at my son's schools. At best, you might call it "natural learning is better". The problem is that natural learning for many kids is "faster", and acceleration is not allowed. I've come to the conclusion that what schools want is the look and feel of learning in a happy environment where all kids are equal; full inclusion and group learning in class.