Ten to 15 percent of the population in the United States has dyslexia, yet only five out of every 100 dyslexics are recognized and receive assistance, according to the Dyslexia Research Institute.
The College of Education & Human Development at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) has set out to address this critical issue impacting student achievement in K-12 schools across the state. The College has joined forces to host a symposium with the National Dyslexia Center at Yale University for a conference on dyslexia. The event will be in the SUNO Conference Center, Thursday, Feb.19 from 6-8 p.m.
“Faculty in the College of Education & Human Development are committed to equipping future teachers with the skills necessary to meet the unique needs of the students they will teach,” said Dr. Mwalimu Shujaa, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “As the issue of dyslexia increases in K-12 education, we want our teachers to be able to address the needs of students who show primary difficulties with basic reading skills early in reading development, so that the students can overcome those difficulties to a large extent.”
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that approximately 38 percent of fourth grade students have “below basic” reading skills. These students are below the 40th percentile (performing below the other 60 percent of their peers), and are at a greater than 50 percent chance of failing the high-stakes, year-end school achievement tests. Not all of these children have dyslexia. Less than one-third of the children with reading disabilities are receiving school services for their reading disability.
The Louisiana Law for the Education of Dyslexic Students (RS 17:7(11)) mandates that public school students be identified and services be provided in the general education program for students demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia. The law also requires that all students in Louisiana are to be screened before the end of the third grade, if a parent gives permission, by using Bulletin 1903.
“In an age of high accountability and a focus on building readers by the third grade, it is important that students are properly identified and appropriate services be provided to them as early as possible,” said Dr. Del Stewart, who serves as an assistant professor in the College.
Stewart, who also is a certified school psychologist, added that “without the proper diagnosis and help, many of these dyslexics will forever be only functionally literate, which will limit their ability to find jobs and function independently within their communities.”
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that includes poor word reading, word decoding, oral reading fluency and spelling. It occurs in people of all backgrounds and intellectual levels.
“We are excited to partner with Southern University at New Orleans to address a critical civil rights issue of our time,” said Dr. Keith Magee, who heads the Multicultural Initiative at the National Dyslexia Center. “Through this partnership, we are able to build capacity in individuals who are most likely to identify this challenge in children.”
The event is free and open to the public.