Decoding Dyslexia North Carolina is a grassroots movement driven by North Carolina families, educators and professionals concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities within our public schools. We aim to raise dyslexia awareness, empower families to support their children, and inform policymakers on best practices to identify, remediate and support students with dyslexia in North Carolina public schools.
What is dyslexia? “Dyslexia 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. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
[Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. This Definition is also used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)]
How widespread is dyslexia? About 5% of the school population nationwide has a learning disability in reading that qualifies them for special education. Many more people—as many as 20% of the population as a whole—have some of the symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing, or mixing up similar words. Even though they may not qualify for special education, they still struggle with many aspects of academic learning.
There is a lack of effective training and instruction for teachers about dyslexia. Teachers often receive no training on dyslexia. This includes general education teachers, reading specialists and special education teachers. As a result, many North Carolina families whose children demonstrate characteristics of dyslexia are struggling to secure effective reading instruction for their children within public schools. There is no systematic screening of students with dyslexia and very few opportunities for the research-based instruction that is needed for these students. This is not a “failing school” issue. This is an issue that affects families in all school districts across our state regardless of demographics.
We are advocating for the state of North Carolina to implement:
- A universal definition and understanding of “dyslexia” in the state education code
(HB 149 passed in 2017)
- Mandatory teacher training on dyslexia, its warning signs and appropriate intervention strategies
- Mandatory early screening tests for dyslexia
- Mandatory dyslexia remediation programs, which can be accessed by both general and special education populations
- Access to appropriate “assistive technologies” in the public school setting for students with dyslexia