It’s absolutely essential that dyslexic students (as well as other LD students) have access to learning supports and accommodations in the classrooms instituting the Common Core, but as the curriculum is still in the process of rolling out, student and parents may need to educate and advocate to ensure they learning is accessible and assessment is fair.
The Common Core guidelines detailing Accommodations and Supports for Students with Learning Disabilities can be found HERE (highlights are ours).
The sections we highlighted – are especially important to give to teachers / IEP groups / principals, if they aren’t aware of them. They include:
“In order for students with disabilities to meet high academic standards and to fully demonstrate their conceptual and procedural knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading, writing, speaking, and listening (English language arts), their instruction must incorporate supports and accommodations”
“Promoting a culture of high expectations for all students is a fundamental goal of the Common Core State Standards. In order to participate with success in the general curriculum, students with disabilities, as appropriate may be provided addition supports and services such as:
- Instructions supports…presenting information in multiple ways and allowing diverse avenues of action and expression
- Instructional accommodations…changes in materials or procedures
- Assistive technology devices and services to ensure access to the general education curriculum and the Common Core State Standards.
Guidelines (unhighlighted) can also be found on the Core Standards website HERE.
Given speed and sheer magnitude of the changes being imposed on schools, teachers, and students with the Core Curriculum there are unfortunately many reports of implementation problems.
General Strategies to Help Dyslexic Students and the Common Core
- Text to Speech or Have Complex Reading Passages Read Aloud. If texts aren’t available in digital or ebook form, then having the passage read aloud, or allowing students to use OCR phone apps such as Translate Photo Free or Prizmo. With apps such as these, a student can snap a picture of a worksheet and have it read back to them by their phone or iPad. If text to speech isn’t available, then a teacher or student buddy should read the passage aloud. Often there will be a benefit to all students to have complex passages read aloud. With complex texts, re-reading is often necessary. Just having heard a passage once will help dyslexics more than if they hadn’t ever heard the passage by ear. Students may also need word problems read aloud.
- Pre-Teach Vocabulary, Supports and Instruction in Grammar and Syntax. Because of difficulties decoding long or uncommon words, teachers and parents should anticipate that their dyslexic students will find it harder with the complex texts present with Common Core standards. Pre-teaching vocabulary and analyzing complex sentences will usually help all students, but especially dyslexic students with LD-based challenges in individual word decoding and syntax (sentence structure).
- Extended Time, Reduced Quantity of Work, Accommodated Assignments and Tests The effect of the Common Core on dyslexic students hasn’t been studied, therefore teachers and students should expect many adjustments that will have to be made. Dyslexic students are slow effortful readers and most will find it difficult to skim and find quotes or certain passages within texts. As a result, the complex text and critical analysis parts of the Common Core, will be very difficult if not impossible for many without individualized expectations. Extra time should be given for dyslexic students – whenever necessary, but also teachers should reduce assignments as needed in order for students to “participate with success in the general curriculum.”
- Supports and Alternative Forms of Expression
As specified in the Core Standards guidelines, supports and alternative forms of expression should be made available for students aren’t able to express their knowledge. For dyslexic students, having an option to present orally or visual (slide or poster presentation), in addition to writing with word prediction software with spelling and grammar supports (like Ginger Software or CoWriter) can help them develop their written expression more than if they were required to write everything by hand.