A letter to the SDE from Decoding Dyslexia Idaho

Dear Idaho State Department of Education,

Decoding Dyslexia Idaho has been very excited to see the work being done on H731 to help Idaho students.  During the roll out of the new law, we have received a number of phone calls asking us to clarify or provide additional support.  We hope that the State Department will consider the following points when communicating and assisting school districts in implementation.

As you know, all districts in the state of Idaho are required to administer the Idaho Reading Indicator (by IStation) to all K-3 students. Because this is a statewide screening measure, this serves as the “Tier 1” screener that is required in the law.  It is only, for those students that do not meet proficiency levels that a secondary diagnostic measure is required. Many teachers, administrators, and district leaders do not understand that they already have the Tier 1 screener, the IStation.  Sharing this message statewide would be incredibly helpful. It may be that some districts just need to add RAN to the Istation assessments, this would be helpful for them to understand.  Districts, administrators and schools have expressed difficulty identifying screeners for grades 4 and 5 and it appears as if the state has now released additional Tier 1 screeners that can be used to support the grade 4 and 5 requirements which can be found on the State Department website.

We have also heard concern that Istation is not providing valid and reliable data as close to 100% of kindergarten students are not meeting proficiency levels in the fall. We of course don’t have evidence of the accuracy of these reports but recognize that is probable and know catching children with characteristics of Dyslexia early is key.  Kindergarten teachers can use additional “Tier 2” screening data to identify areas of need for targeted instruction, which may quickly rule out students who are not showing characteristics of Dyslexia or other learning disabilities.

We appreciate what has been added to the State Department website in providing guidance for additional measures. It would be helpful to share that there are additional free and low-cost resources that teachers can use to provide them with diagnostic information.  We appreciate that the state has begun to gather a list of measures appropriate for Tier 2. We support the need for funding specifically for PD on assessments related to this bill.

We understand that the timing and rollout of the professional development required in the bill is challenging. Some of the language in the final version of the bill indicates that the training should be completed by each one of these academic calendar years, as opposed to training would begin by each one of these academic calendar years. The intent of the bill was to ensure that every district in the state had simply started this process and that it would become a priority.

We are pleased that there have been many questions and movement in this area and will continue to be available to support you in these implementation efforts.

Sincerely, 

Decoding Dyslexia Idaho

Robin Zikmund

About Robin Zikmund

Robin Zikmund is the founder and President of the Decoding Dyslexia Idaho Chapter. She has worked the past 5 years to help support 20% of children in Idaho schools who struggle with Dyslexia.

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