Standard scores, fluency charts, grade equivalents, percentiles and checklists, this is what most people think of when they think of measuring progress. But how many times have you been reading these ‘progress reports’ and thought, “I know he is doing better, I see it every day. Why is it not showing up in the scores?” Part of the problem is the assessments and part of the problem is the way we are assessing progress in students who are learning the structure of the English language. We are assessing them with standardized and informal assessments and asking them questions, when we should be listening to the questions they are asking us.
Dyslexia: It’s Okay to Go Off Script
I want to introduce you to Brian, he is my new student. Brian is in the seventh grade and he is reading at about the fourth grade level, his spelling is lower. I think I am about the sixth or seventh tutor he has had in his short academic life. He has had Orton-Gillingham, Lindamood-Bell and everything in between and around the way. To Brian, I am just another person, in a long line of people, who thinks she has the magic cure for him. I know he thinks this, I can just tell by the way he interacts with me during our first session, so I am going off script for Brian. This is something he is not used to and the last time his mom checked in with him, he said “I don’t hate it.” A rousing vote of confidence from an almost thirteen-year-old.
As the dyslexia awareness movement marches forward and starts to become more and more visible to the public and the powers that be, I think it is time to stop, take a breath and think about where we are today. What do we know about dyslexia? What advice are we offering parents? Are we being careful stewards of the information science has provided us? What is most alarming to me is that I hear parents and professionals stating that only one intervention is appropriate for all kids with dyslexia and I think whenever a group demands one intervention by name, it worries me.
It is not uncommon to sweep the schwa under the rug or give it a cursory nod in a short lesson and then move on. Instead many instructors choose to over-pronounce a word and avoid the schwa altogether. Think about this, the schwa is the most common utterance in the English language, and it deserves to be understood. Here is a quiz for you to become schwaducated and when you are done, you can peruse the answers to learn more about the schwa. Continue reading