We were fortunate to have Carrie Thomas Beck, the new Dyslexia Specialist with Oregon Department of Education (ODE) at the March 7, 2016 Portland Chapter Decoding Dyslexia meeting. Carrie visited with a group of teachers prior to the meeting in the Teacher to Teacher resource session.
The following is a summation of questions asked and the answers Carrie provided.
Q: We are thrilled that you are Oregon’s first Dyslexia Specialist. Can you outline your charge and responsibilities?
A: Thank you! My role is to provide school districts with the support and resources necessary to assist students with dyslexia and their families according to the requirements of recent dyslexia legislation in Oregon, Senate Bill (SB) 612. This includes developing a plan on universal dyslexia screening; developing a list of training opportunities related to dyslexia to share with districts; ensuring that at least one K-5 teacher in each K-5/K-8 school receives training related to dyslexia; and drafting Oregon Administrative Rules (OARs) to address SB 612 implementation requirements.
Q: What is the role of the Oregon Dyslexia Advisory Council (ODAC), and how were its members chosen?
A: ODAC’s role is to inform the work of the ODE. The input from ODAC is only advisory. ODE is ultimately responsible for developing the plan and implementation of other SB 612 requirements. We had a tremendous response from stakeholders across the state to our call for applications. Our goal was to form an advisory group that included representation from a broad range of stakeholders in the area of dyslexia, and we have assembled a strong team.
Q: What are you looking for as you develop a list of training opportunities related to dyslexia?
A: As stated in SB 612, we are required to create a list of training opportunities that enable teachers to implement instruction that is systematic, explicit, and evidence-based to meet the educational needs of students with dyslexia. Each training opportunity must comply with the knowledge and practice standards of an international organization on dyslexia and enable the teacher to understand and recognize dyslexia. The list will include at least one opportunity that is provided entirely online. The Department of Education is required to develop a list annually.
Q: Can you tell us more about the plan to screen for risk factors of dyslexia?
A: Yes, SB 612 requires ODE to work collaboratively with experts on dyslexia to develop a plan to ensure that every student who is first enrolled at a public school in Oregon for kindergarten or first grade receives a screening for risk factors of dyslexia, and to provide guidance for notifications sent by school districts to parents of students who are identified as being at risk for dyslexia based on this screening. The plan must identify screening tests that are cost effective and that screen for (a) phonological awareness; (b) rapid naming skills; (c) the correspondence between sounds and letters; and (d) family history of difficulty in learning to read.
Q: What is the implementation timeline for these tasks?
A: The plan on universal screening is to be submitted to the Interim Legislative Committee on Education no later than September 15, 2016. SB 612 states that a teacher in each building must be trained by January 1, 2018. The goal is to release a list of training opportunities in the fall of 2016 to allow districts time to identify the teachers who will participate and plan for subs for a January 1, 2017 start to training. This should provide enough time for a teacher to complete the training by January 1, 2018.
Q: Is there a way for parents, educators, and interested others to follow your work?
A: Yes, we have begun to develop a new dyslexia page on the ODE website. People can also request to join our stakeholder distribution list which will keep them informed of the work of the group and allow them the opportunity to provide feedback via email. Interested stakeholders can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request to be placed on this list.