… to the blog for The Right to Read Project!  It is designed for parents, practitioners, teachers and students to share and compare experiences helping struggling and dyslexic readers.

Feel free to comment!  Think of this as a sounding board for which interventions are working for your struggling readers, how your schools and districts are (or are not!) helping, and which states are doing best to implement Response to Intervention (RTI).

The more we share best practices and policies among ourselves, and with our schools, administrators, legislators and policy makers, the sooner we can get to full literacy for all.

What’s New

January, 2015: Written Testimony to the Congressional Committee on the ESEA Re-Authorization

Dear Chairman Alexander and Members of the Committee,

Thank you for taking on the task of rewriting ESEA, and I join with millions of parents, teachers and advocates who hope for a more appropriate use of federal funds under ESEA than we have seen under No Child Left Behind.
In approaching your rewrite, I call your attention to the one aspect of NCLB that could have actually helped bring about the envisioned full proficiency in math and reading by 2014: the Reading First program.  During your first hearing Sen. Whitehouse of RI noted that if all children could read in first grade, many of the issues related to the academic achievement gap could be ameliorated.  From my experience, having all children reading by first grade is a heavy lift, but with the proper reading programs, supports, and interventions where needed, all children could/should be reading by third grade.
Instead, NCLB and related Race to the Top grants have spawned an array of initiatives that have far more to do with altering governance and payment structures in education (see ” Federal Mandates on Local Education: Costs and Consequences) than with actual instructional practices in the classroom.
The magnitude of reading difficulties is huge.  The NICHD Reading Panel Report to Congress of 2000 ( “Teaching Children to Read”)  stated that by fourth grade, four out of ten children still struggle with reading.  Two out of ten are dyslexic.  The Panel recommended research-based instructional and intervention protocols that were incorporated into Readng First, as well as for the NICHD  “Response to Intervention” (RTI) protocol that was included in the 2004 IDEA legislation update.
For a description of how this has played out at the ground level, I describe the magnitude reading problems in New York City public schools in “To Help All Children Read, First Do the Math.”   An earlier report from the Abell Foundation, “The Invisible Dyslexics,”  describes how students with dyslexia in Baltimore fall though the cracks.  Many so-called “failing Continue reading

Free Webinars on the Science of Reading

May 6, 2021 is “Dyslexia Awareness Day” in NYS. For help “navigating the system,” as we say, check out my book for parents of struggling readers: “Help! My Child Isn’t Reading Yet – What Should I Do?”

Plus here are free webinars on the Science of Reading for teachers and parents of struggling and dyslexic readers:  https://link.divenewsletter.com/…/5aa2d24495a7…/7f2099e3

CCSSO Literacy Summit: Pre- K to Grade 3

This is from the CCSSO Literacy Summit in January 2020. It was the last presentation, so pulls in a number of references to other discussions the attendees had already heard. (“Headline” names included Louisa Moats, David Steiner and Emily Hanford.)
The focus of this presentation was on the DC School District’s pre-K program, and then how Mississippi turned its reading scores around. Especially noteworthy was the MS presenter’s emphasis that the initiatives were state-driven. As such, the state put literacy coaches in all the schools. (That way, individual school principles could not reassign the coaches.) Teacher prep programs were overhauled so that incoming teachers actually knew how to teach reading. She also goes over the legislation involved that implemented the programs.
Another discussion of special note here is from the Arkansas rep, describing how they turned around the issue of struggling readers in upper grades and high school.
Finally, researcher Emily Solaris answers a question about addressing diverse reading needs by classroom teachers. She notes that the instruction can be the same for diverse learners, but that the level of intensity might need to be adjusted. She ends by saying that ideally the classroom teacher should be able to address the needs of all of them, even those “7 to 8 students” who continue to struggle. With that last point I must disagree. Those are most likely the dyslexics in the class, and need “Tier 3” reading interventions (under the Response to Intervention protocals currently in place).
All in all, an excellent assemblage of voices and experiences.

I “bumped into” this article again today, related to a conversation I was having last summer when I’d cited it about the proportion of small-business owners are who dyslexic.  Close to double the actual percentage of dyslexics in the overall population (35% vs 20%).   In re-reading it, I was extremely startled by the suggestion that so many in the U.S. may be successful in their small businesses or as entrepreneurs because US schools “intervene early!!” Really? Where?! I wondered if it was more true of older entrepreneurs, since goodness knows the word “dyslexia” had been “airbrushed” out of existence by the time my kids were starting school in the 1990’s.  The literacy advocacy community is working hard to make it “real” again, but goodness knows it’s a heavy lift!  As the head of one of the SUNY ed-school recently told a Decoding Dyslexia NY member — “Dyslexia doesn’t exist.”  He had likely been trained in the 1970’s, when, as a poster on a recent article said “In the 1970’s… we were told dyslexia doesn’t exist.”  Even though, of course… it had been discerned by the late 19th century, named by the 1920’s, and was being treated by the 1930’s.


Study shows stronger links between entrepreneurs and dyslexia
By BRENT BOWERS NOV. 5, 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/…/05iht-dyslexia.4.8602036.html…

What’s In the News

Sept. 8, 2015

International Literacy Day

FYI, From Pencils of Promise, plus check out Empire State Bldg. tonight (if you can, of course).  Lit up like a pencil maybe?

Important Focus on Reading Instruction in Teacher Training —

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Teachers Aren’t Dumb


South Carolina is the latest state to add a “Reading by 8” law:

Promotion of 3rd Graders Tied to Reading Scores Under New S.C. Law
Education Week, June 12, 2014  by Liana Heitin


“Early Concerns About E-Books’ Effect on Reading Comprehension, Researchers Say”

Education Week, April 4, 2014, by Benjamin Herold


April 1, 2014:  Excellent piece in the Huffington Post on “2e,” or “twice exceptional” students: those who are gifted and having learning disabilities.  The problem is even worse now in schools that use “school readiness” screenings for gifted or accelerated programs, rather than IQ tests since “school readiness” especially tests for reading ability!



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What Worked for Us

Share your experiences getting help for your child’s reading struggles.  Use the comment section below.

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