Decoding Dyslexia VA

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First Step Act of 2018, S. 756: Enacted, Dec. 21, 2018

Link to Congressional site.

On December 21, the U.S. Congress passed and the President signed a bill that includes dyslexia screening and interventions for all federal and state incarcerated inmates.

Dyslexia is a leading cause of illiteracy, so to address illiteracy and incarceration, we must better address dyslexia.” Senator Bill Cassidy.
A study found that 80 percent of prison inmates at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas, were functionally illiterate and 48 percent were dyslexic.

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Section language from Title I, Subchapter D that include dyslexia are listed below:

TITLE I—RECIDIVISM REDUCTION

SEC. 101. RISK AND NEEDS ASSESSMENT SYSTEM.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Chapter 229 of title 18, United States Code,

is amended by inserting after subchapter C the following:

‘‘SUBCHAPTER D—RISK AND NEEDS ASSESSMENT SYSTEM

‘‘Sec.

‘‘3631. Duties of the Attorney General.

‘‘3632. Development of risk and needs assessment system.

‘‘3633. Evidence-based recidivism reduction program and recommendations.

‘‘3634. Report.

‘‘3635. Definitions.

Title I: Section 3631: Duties of Attorney General

‘‘(B) to address the specific criminogenic needs of the

prisoner; and

‘‘(C) all prisoners are able to successfully participate

in such programs;

‘‘(6) determine when to provide incentives and rewards

for successful participation in evidence-based recidivism reduction

programs or productive activities in accordance with subsection

(e);

‘‘(7) determine when a prisoner is ready to transfer into

prerelease custody or supervised release in accordance with

section 3624; and

‘(8) determine the appropriate use of audio technology

for program course materials with an understanding of dyslexia.

In carrying out this subsection, the Attorney General may use

existing risk and needs assessment tools, as appropriate.

Title I: Section 3632: Development of Risk and Needs Assessment System

‘‘(h) DYSLEXIA SCREENING .—

‘‘(1) SCREENING .—The Attorney General shall incorporate

a dyslexia screening program into the System, including by

screening for dyslexia during—

‘‘(A) the intake process; and

‘‘(B) each periodic risk reassessment of a prisoner.

(2) TREATMENT .—The Attorney General shall incorporate

programs designed to treat dyslexia into the evidence-based

recidivism reduction programs or productive activities required

to be implemented under this section. The Attorney General

may also incorporate programs designed to treat other learning

disabilities.

Title I: Section 3633: Evidence Based Recidivism Reduction Program and Recommendations

‘‘(C) the addition of any new effective evidence-based

recidivism reduction programs that the Attorney General

finds.

‘‘(b) REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DYSLEXIA

MITIGATION .—In carrying out subsection (a), the Attorney General

shall consider the prevalence and mitigation of dyslexia in prisons,

including by—

‘‘(1) reviewing statistics on the prevalence of dyslexia, and

the effectiveness of any programs implemented to mitigate the

effects of dyslexia, in prisons operated by the Bureau of Prisons

and State-operated prisons throughout the United States; and

‘‘(2) incorporating the findings of the Attorney General

under paragraph (1) of this subsection into any directives given

to the Bureau of Prisons under paragraph (5) of subsection

(a).

Title I: Section 3634: Report

‘‘(iii) promote crime reduction programs using evidence-

based practices and strategic planning to help

reduce crime and criminal recidivism.

‘‘(8) Statistics on—

‘‘(A) the prevalence of dyslexia among prisoners in

prisons operated by the Bureau of Prisons; and

‘‘(B) any change in the effectiveness of dyslexia mitigation

programs among such prisoners that may be attributed

to the incorporation of dyslexia screening into the System

and of dyslexia treatment into the evidence-based recidivism

reduction programs, as required under this chapter.

Title I: ‘‘§ 3635. Definitions

‘‘In this subchapter the following definitions apply:

(1) DYSLEXIA .—The term ‘dyslexia’ means an unexpected

difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence

to be a much better reader, most commonly caused by a difficulty

in the phonological processing (the appreciation of the

individual sounds of spoken language), which affects the ability

of an individual to speak, read, and spell.

‘‘(2) DYSLEXIA SCREENING PROGRAM .—The term ‘dyslexia

screening program’ means a screening program for dyslexia

that is—

‘‘(A) evidence-based (as defined in section 8101(21) of

the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20

U.S.C. 7801(21))) with proven psychometrics for validity;

‘‘(B) efficient and low-cost; and

‘‘(C) readily available.

PALS Screening in Virginia

ACTION ALERT: INPUT NEEDED!

 

 

 

In an attempt to understand our publicly funded Virginia Universal Screener and the impact it has on our children in the classroom, Decoding Dyslexia Virginia began requesting data that is required by our universal screening law to be collected on our children in grades K-3.  

To provide background:

  • We understand that our state has mandated that a universal screener be administered to every child ages kindergarten through third grade.  
  • We are aware that the PALS assessment is the screener that the state has made available through public funds to our districts and if a district chooses to use an alternate screener, there must be an approved waiver.  
  • At this time, every district with the exception of Fairfax County, has committed to using the PALS screener as their fulfillment of the universal screener mandate.

Decoding Dyslexia Virginia has a mission to raise awareness and connect families to information and resources.  In our work to understand the issue of dyslexia and how it is intrinsically connected to literacy in Virginia, we believe it is important to understand everything about initial literacy screenings, appropriate interventions delivered by qualified educators, and access to assistive technology and accommodations.  

In an effort to increase transparency with our community, we would like to share information about our efforts to obtain the PALS data in the last few months. Please consider completing this informal community survey to enrich our understanding of screening in the state of Virginia.

If you’d like to help cover the cost for this FOIA request, please DONATE here.

Timeline for obtaining PALS data:

September 19, 2018 – A DDVA parent sent an email to the VDOE requesting information on how to access the data collected from our publicly funded state screener.   

September 19, 2018 – VDOE response was that the data was accessible to vetted researchers only through the VLDS (Virginia Longitudinal Data System).

September 19, 2019 – DDVA parents respond that they are not vetted researchers and unable to access PALS data.

September 20, 2018 – VDOE informs us that suppressed data is available to the public through an FOIA, Freedom of Information Act request.  Easy how-to-do-it-yourself instructions available here!

September 21, 2018 – DDVA parents submit an FOIA request asking for state data.  This request was for information over multiple school years, to include grades K-3 and both subtest and composite test scores.

September 26, 2018 – VDOE issues the following response and invoice:

“VDOE staff has determined that it will take approximately 68.5 hours for staff to search, review, and produce the requested information.  VDOE policy provides that a $19.98 per hour fee shall be assessed for staff time to respond to FOIA requests, and waives the first $20.00 of charges. Therefore, your total estimated cost to respond to this request would be $1348.63.“  Invoice available here

September 26 – October 4, 2018 –  DDVA founding members conducted discussions regarding next steps. Outreach to additional experts in the field for guidance on our efforts to collect PALS data that was not readily accessible with our initial parent request

October 11, 2018 – DDVA submitted the $674.32 deposit (link google doc of invoice) through the mail to move forward with the data request.

October 18, 2018 – VDOE receipt of deposit begins the work on the DDVA FOIA request.

October 18, 2018 – VDOE files for an extension, new due date October 31, 2018

October 31, 2018DDVA receives answers to specific questions from VDOE.  Raw data for dollars that districts have received through the publicly funded Early Intervention Reading Initiative, EIRI

November 1, 2018 – DDVA sends the remaining balance of $674.32 to VDOE through the mail.

November 1, 2018 – Present  – DDVA begins analysis of data.

November 6, 2018 – DDVA developed an informal community survey to gather additional information.  
For a deep dive on Virginia literacy, we provided some additional resources HERE.

Decoding Dyslexia VA hosts First Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day at the Capital!

 

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Hello VA,

Below you will find our agenda for the events of February 4th!  We will continue to update you as we receive additional information.  We look forward to gathering together to raise dyslexia awareness and let policy makers hear our concerns.

Where:  Richmond, VA

7th Floor West Conference Room General Assembly Building.  http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/includes/contentTemplate.php?tid=94&ctype=t&cid=94

When:  9:30-11:00am Reception

  • Light refreshments to be served
  • Short presentation:  Decoding Dyslexia VA: Parents United
  • Speaker: Ben Pasternak, DDVA Parent

Parents, educators, specialists and policy makers please join us as Decoding Dyslexia VA hosts our First Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day at the Capital!

Learn more about:

  • Decoding Dyslexia VA – Our history and plans for the future
  • What is Dyslexia? – Who does it impact and what can be done
  • How positive change will benefit our children, our schools and our state.

Following the reception, opportunities for Gallery seats to observe the State Session, as well as Capital tours may be available.  This opportunity is dependent on RSVP’s and is subject to change with no advanced notice.

We encourage families and individuals who join us on the 4th to reach out to your representatives.  Invite them to the reception or schedule to meet with a member of their staff some time during the day.  DDVA members will be available to join the conversations or offer talking points if needed.

Update: Please our Event Brite Link for additional information and the opportunity to RSVP.  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dyslexia-awareness-day-the-state-capitol-tickets-10450741449

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