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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 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, 2018 – DDVA 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.
We are asking families from around the state to once again reach out to their state representatives and let their voices be heard! Just two easy steps and we can start to make positive change for the state of VA for our students with dyslexia.
1 – Find your Legislator! Here: http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/
2 – Write an email and/or make a phone call
SAMPLE LETTER (or create your own, personalize your story, include pictures and email it to your legislator.)
Be sure to include your name and address
I am reaching out today to increase awareness for dyslexia. I support the mission put forth by Decoding Dyslexia VA and would like you to review some of their information found here: http://www.dysva.org This is an important issue to our family.
We are advocating for Virginia to implement:
· Teacher/staff training on dyslexia, its warning signs and appropriate intervention strategies
· Early screening tests for dyslexia to include parental notification
· Evidenced-based dyslexia remediation programs implemented with fidelity which can be accessed by both general and special education populations
· Access to appropriate “assistive technologies” in the public school setting for students with dyslexia
Thank you for your time and service!
123 any st
town, VA zip
SAMPLE PHONE MESSAGE
“Hello, my name is XXX, I am a constituent of Senator/Delegate XXXX. I am calling today in support of raising dyslexia awareness. I would like make sure your office is aware that this is an important issue to our family. I would like to encourage your office to learn more about dyslexia and the impact on VA families. Thank you for you time and service!”
You can also make an appointment with your representatives and visit them in person at either their district or Richmond office. Please find additional talking points here: https://decodingdyslexiava.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/talking-points-ddva/
We here at DDVA believe that getting a child and parents to the appropriate resources and information as fast as possible along their journey helps both the parents and the child. What we are so excited about sharing with you here is that this resource and opportunity will help families of children with dyslexia served by IEP’s in VA AND help schools and faculty where training and information may also be diffucult to locate on AIM VA, Accessible Instructional Material in VA.
If you are not familiar with AIM VA, here is a link and a quick overview: http://kihd.gmu.edu/aim/about-us/
AIM-VA provides accessible instructional materials at no cost to Virginia K-12 students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Accessible instructional materials are alternative print materials, (e.g., Braille, electronic files, etc.) that can be delivered to and used by students who are not able to use traditional print formats. AIM-VA staff provide teachers with training and technical assistance on how to select and use accessible instructional materials with students.
AIM VA recently reached out and asked if we could help connect their trainers with VA families and educators. They will come out and train at Parent Resources Centers, SEAC meetings, PTA hosted events, Parent coffees, faculty meetings and just about anywhere there might be a need.
Here is a list of topics too!
AIM-VA Training Topics are below.General Overview: What is AIM? What do we provide? (new users)Features (accessibility of formats)Laws, rules, and regulationsAIM updates (existing users)Site navigation/use/featuresPortal navigation/use/featuresUse of Partner Sites (Learning Ally and Bookshare)Use of assistive technology programs (DJ R:OL and Read Hear)Administrative roles and responsibilities as they relate to AIM-VAAIMVA seminar (guided by user questions)
We would like to say thank you and DDVA is super excited to be part of this conversation with AIM VA!
Please feel free to contact the awesome folks below with questions or ideas. It would be wonderful to spread the word about AIM VA and get more children to the assistive technology they need.
First, we would like to take a minute to thank John Eisenburg and Pat Abrams of the Virginia Dept Of Education Special Education Dept for taking time to sit down with DDVA earlier this month!
Second, Resource Alert!!! DDVA families who are struggling in school, we (VDOE and DDVA) encourage you to reach out to the state ombudsman.
Q: What is an Ombudsman?
A: “Ombudsman” is a Swedish word meaning citizen representative or advocate. An ombudsman is a person who serves as a ‘designated neutral’ who advocates for a fair process.
Q: What does an Ombudsman do?
A: The ombudsman acts as a source of information and referral, aids in answering individuals’ questions, and assists in the resolution of concerns and issues. The ombudsman serves as a resource to parents in non-legal special education matters.
How do I contact the ombudsman?
Gloria Dalton, Parent Ombudsman
Phone: 804-371-7420 or 800-422-2083
For more information please visit the VA Department of Education Website here: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/resolving_disputes/ombudsman/index.shtml
Proud of your graduate? So are we!!!
Want to give a shout out to your graduate??
Each night in June, that we have participants, DDVA will Shout Out your message of congrats!!
Here are the details!
What & When: Posts will go up on our Decoding Dyslexia VA FaceBook page each night at 7 p.m.
Who: Our community of graduates. High school, college, tech, middle school, elementary school, tutoring program, etc., if they are graduating we want to help celebrate!!
What we need:
Photo of your gradate. (By sending us your photo you are giving DDVA permission to use that photo for this campaign, we will not use the photo for any other purposes.)
First name, Last Name (optional)
Name of School and town in VA. (Not in VA??? Ck with your state Decoding Dyslexia chapter here to see if they are hosting this campaign, if not we will gladly include your Shout Out!)
Your personal message of congrats! Sample message: “We are so proud of you! Love Mom and Dad”
Please send your info to: facesofdyslexiaVA@gmail.com
Last fall we, (DDVA) met graduate student, Amy Brothers, through our Facebook page. She was asking to interview dyslexics for her thesis, “Dyslexia, The Art of Struggle. In a total of eleven personal stories, Amy’s own story is included along with videos and struggles from several Decoding Dyslexia members.
The complexity of the message and the variety in which she portrays the stories is elegant and poignant. We truly hope to see an update on all of these people in five years time.
We encourage you to attend the opening on May 7th at 7:00 pm at the Corcoran Gallery of Art . The show runs until May 19th.
Info for the exhibit can be found here: http://www.corcoran.edu/next-corcoran
The website where you can see more about the piece: http://www.theartofstruggle.com/
On March 15th, 46 Decoding Dyslexia states will be asking the public to display their “1 in 5” proudly for all to see.
This 1 in 5 campaign is piggybacking the observation of National Reading Month, with the reminder that 1 in 5 individuals is dyslexic and struggle with reading everyday.
Want to join in? Here is all you have to do.
“Write it out!”
Write, post, print, sky write the words: “1 in 5” on something; your hand, a t-shirt, car window, post it note, even a banner.
Take a picture of it and share it!
- Post it to your Facebook page!
- Post it to our Facebook page: Decoding Dyslexia VA
- Post it on Twitter! @ddva13
- Instagram it!
- Pin it!
Include the hashtag #showme1in5 so we can all connect.
This campaign is to raise Dyslexia awareness.
1 in 5 individuals is dyslexic; early identification and proper intervention are key to helping these children succeed in their education.
Thank you from all of us DDVA! We look forward to seeing your “1 in 5” posts this Saturday, March 15th!!