State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
Dyslexia Education: Evidence-based Methods and Approaches
The 2020 General Assembly, via HB904, created a new responsibility for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), to "facilitate the development of a statewide coalition of public institutions of higher education to gather and share information on the latest evidence-based methods and approaches to prepare teachers to effectively educate K-12 students in reading, including multisensory structured language education to instruct students with dyslexia.”
On Friday, August 7th, 2020 from 10:00am to 12:00pm, SCHEV’s Advisory Committee for Disability Access to Higher Education hosted a WebEx event to bring together the Commonwealth's schools of higher education to discuss the topic of evidence-based methods and approaches to pre-service preparation in reading, including dyslexia education (see agenda in Appendix A). Dr. James F. Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Virginia Department of Education, gave pre-recorded opening remarks (Appendix B).
The convening objective was to reflect and share experiences on efforts to prepare teachers to effectively educate K-12 students in reading, with an emphasis on improving reading instruction for students with dyslexia, based on the latest evidence-based methods and approaches. To this end, Dr. Emily Solari; Professor of Reading Education in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, Curry School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia; presented information on UVA’s process to change its curricula and development of teacher candidates to better align with the scientific evidence of reading acquisition. Following, participants discussed information raised in Dr. Solari’s presentation and reflected on their own institutions’ efforts to address the preparation of teacher candidates in the science of reading and dyslexia.
Both public and private institutions of higher education (IHEs) were invited and participated in the convening. 28 representatives attended from 15 institutions of higher education in Virginia as well as two representatives from Decoding Dyslexia Virginia and one representative from Virginia’s Training and Technical Assistance Center (T/TAC) .
The convening outcome was to create a coalition of IHEs that will gather and share information on the latest evidence-based methods and approaches to prepare teachers to effectively educate K-12 students in reading, with an emphasis on improving reading instruction for students with dyslexia.
Evidence-based Methods and Approaches
Dr. Solari’s presentation focused on three key topics: 1) the core components and thinking behind curriculum changes at UVA; 2) the science of reading – what it is and what it is not – and how it is incorporated into UVA curriculum; and 3) the change process. The presentation addressed the current state of instruction, why we need to develop teachers who have the knowledge to instruct struggling readers, the importance of early intervention, effective instruction for students with dyslexia, using data to drive instructional decisions, and implementation science.
Synthesis of Participant Responses
Participants’ raised issues and problems of practice facing endeavors to prepare teachers to effectively educate K-12 students in reading, including students with dyslexia, in their contexts.
Guiding questions were:
1. Based on the presentation, what are similar challenges and successes you’re facing in implementing the science of reading in your School of Education curriculum?
2. How does your undergrad curriculum for educators address the topic of dyslexia and intervention appropriate for students with dyslexia?
3. What other topics might be important to gain a better understanding of how to prepare teachers to effectively educate K–12 students in reading, including for students with dyslexia?
Participants’ responses to the questions indicate the following topics are important to consider:
· The role of critical reading, writing, and social justice
· Equity as it relates to access to intervention/instructional supports
· The relationship between reading and writing
· The disconnect between teacher candidate’s pre-service preparation in the science of reading and teacher’s in-service professional development and/or district/school curricula
· Special populations, like English language learners, students with dysgraphia, hypo -graphia, in addition to dyslexia
Identified Areas of Need
Participants identified the following key areas of need in preparing teachers to effectively educate K-12 students in reading, including students with dyslexia:
· Developing shared understanding and joint action among faculty to promote evidence-based methods and approaches to teacher preparation in reading within and across schools of education
· Having administrators that support and help reduce barriers to pursuing evidence-based methods and approaches to teacher preparation in reading within and across schools of education
· Breaking down “silos” among teacher education programs within schools of education (e.g., undergraduate, graduate, elementary education, special education, reading specialist) in order to better enhance, coordinate, and align curricula based on the science of reading
· Cohering teacher candidates’ coursework and field placement in the science of reading
· Mary Stowe, T/TAC, conducted a walkthrough of the Structured Literacy Repository that is available to convening participants. (Appendix E ) The repository has curated resources in folders on: whole language, teacher preparation programs, structured literacy, phonics programs, organizational journals with structured literacy information, International Dyslexia Association Perspectives articles, foundational reading skill acquisition with explicit phonics instruction, dyslexia information, and comprehension. Resources will be continually curated and added to the repository. Participants are encouraged to contribute resources.
· Meeting scheduled for Sept. 25th from 10am – 12pm via Zoom with convening participants and invitation will be extended to additional IHE personnel. Dr. Linda Mason of GMU will present on writing. Agenda and meeting link to follow.
Meeting summary prepared by August 7th meeting moderator, Sarah Sayko, Ed.D , Senior Research Associate, RMC Research Corporation
Appendix A: Convening Agenda
Appendix B: Dr. Lane’s Opening Remarks
Appendix C: Participating Universities and Colleges