Handbook

Michigan Department of Education Releases Dyslexia Handbook to Guide Teachers and University Leaders

At the start of the school year, the Michigan Department of Education released a new guide for teachers and other school officials to improve the literacy skills of students with characteristics of dyslexia.

The disorder usually causes reading difficulties.

Kim St. Martin is the Technical Assistance Center Manager for Michigan Tiered Support Systems.

She also works with the Ministry of Education and led the writing and development of the manual. WKAR’s Sophia Saliby spoke with her about how the resource will be used.

Interview Highlights

On how the guide will be used

The point of this manual was really to start establishing a common language and a common understanding related to things like dyslexia, research on how to actually teach students how to read, how to write, ways to support learning literacy in all learners, the professional learning considerations that teachers and administrators will need to be able to support students in their reading and writing development. And then we also expanded the manual to specifically talk about special education, eligibility, and services for learners who may exhibit characteristics of dyslexia.

On legislation offering dyslexia screenings

We have made a very strong effort to ensure that there is a continuum of supports for all learners to prevent and accelerate reading difficulties that begin with the use of assessment data like screening data. To be able to say, is there anything that tells us that a child might need extra support? A filter is just a gauge. It’s like putting a toothpick in the middle of a cake, so you can say, is there something going on? Is this something we need to pay attention to?

On what parents can watch out for that may indicate reading difficulties for their child

For example, at the preschool level, if you have a child who speaks later than most children of the same age, that might be, does not mean that is the case, but it could indicate features of dyslexia. We have a chart that describes the particular grade level and even goes all the way back to adolescence, from fourth to twelfth grade. Again, just as a potential indicator of something parents can say, “My God, is there anything we should be working on in conjunction with schools to start looking at care, through intervention and other types of support?

Interview Transcript

Sophie Saliby: At the start of the school year, the Michigan Department of Education released a new guide for teachers and other school officials to improve the literacy skills of students diagnosed with dyslexia.

The disorder usually causes reading difficulties.

Kim St. Martin is with the Department of Education and led the writing and development of the manual. She joins me now. Thanks to be here.

Kim Saint Martin: Thank you very much Sophie. It’s great to be with you.

Salibi: Can you explain why this resource was created for educators?

Saint-Martin : The point of this manual was really to start establishing a common language and a common understanding related to things like dyslexia, research on how to actually teach students how to read, how to write, ways to support learning literacy in all learners, the professional learning considerations that teachers and administrators will need to be able to support students in their reading and writing development.

And then we also expanded the manual to specifically talk about special education, eligibility, and services for learners who may exhibit characteristics of dyslexia.

This manual highlights some of these potential indicators or characteristics of dyslexia.

I want to say, Sophia, when you start the conversation, this manual is really about the characteristics of dyslexia, not necessarily the diagnosis of dyslexia. And I think that’s an important distinction to make because it’s, it could easily be misunderstood or confusing. This manual focuses on the characteristics because in the school setting, educators, school psychologists do not have the ability to diagnose dyslexia.

However, we know absolutely enough from research and know how to identify and prevent reading difficulties. And we know enough from the literature that there are certain characteristics that can be potential indicators of dyslexia. Thus, this manual highlights some of these potential indicators or characteristics of dyslexia.

Salibi: There are measures in the state legislature being considered that would require things like mandatory dyslexia screenings and enhanced teacher training to identify these characteristics.

Do you think these are the kinds of initiatives that should be put in place to help these students?

Saint-Martin : Yes. I mean, the good news is that within the State of Michigan, we’ve made a very strong effort to ensure that there is a continuum of supports for all learners to prevent and accelerate learning difficulties. reading that begin with the use of assessment data such as screening data.

A filter is just a gauge. It’s like putting a toothpick in the middle of a cake, so you can say, “Is something going on?

To be able to say, is there anything that tells us that a child might need extra support? A filter is just a gauge. It’s like putting a toothpick in the middle of a cake, so you can say, “Is something going on? Is this something we need to pay attention to?

So we’re very much in favor of supporting early detection, prevention and intervention. It actually aligns with the Michigan Department of Education’s Strategic Education Plan. The second goal is to improve early literacy outcomes. It’s something we’ve been focusing on for some time, certainly not just because of the most recent bills.

Salibi: For parents and with the return to school, are there any signs they should watch out for, perhaps with younger learners, that could indicate dyslexia or reading difficulties?

Saint-Martin : In the guide that we provide, it’s a nice chart, and it identifies some of the potential indicators, the potential hallmarks of dyslexia.

For example, at the preschool level, if you have a child who speaks later than most children of the same age, that might be, does not mean that is the case, but it could indicate features of dyslexia. We have a chart that describes the particular grade level and goes all the way back to adolescence, from grades 4 to 12.

Again, just as a potential indicator of something parents might say, “My God, is there anything we should be working with schools to start looking at, through interventions and other types of support? »

Salibi: What are some ways parents can support their children if they are diagnosed with dyslexia?

Saint-Martin : When learners are diagnosed with dyslexia by people with the appropriate qualifications, they should definitely speak to the school district. Parents should come and be able to share the information they have gathered.

Parents absolutely must be side by side with their student’s educator, with leaders and be able to design ways to support learners because we know that it takes a partnership between school and home.

And the school will also work with parents to have a, to really look holistically at the students, what kind of support is being provided to them? How does the learner benefit from a reading intervention? Is it intensive enough, i.e. is it designed to be able to pinpoint exactly where they still need more support? And is it happening at the frequency, in the time needed to accelerate their results?

Parents absolutely must be side by side with their student’s educator, with leaders and be able to design ways to support learners because we know that it takes a partnership between school and home.

Salibi: Kim St. Martin works at the state Department of Education and led the writing and development of the Michigan Dyslexia Handbook. Thanks for joining me.

Salibi: Thanks, Sophie.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.