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Reading struggles IEP request


Emily Murphy
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My daughter is in 1st grade and really struggling to read.  She has between a half hour to an hour of homework each day.  I am concerned at this point in the year with her lack of progress.  I wonder if she maybe has dyslexia and the teacher said the school does not worry about the possibility until 3rd grade.  Unfortunately,  she is struggling NOW.  What should I do, and, or, ask for to initiate testing?

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There are no credible resources that say a school should wait until 3rd grade to test/screen/evaluate for dyslexia.  In fact, the research says the earlier dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies are addressed, the better the chances are for the student to be successful in the future.  See the link below from the International Dyslexia Association.

Many states are starting to pass legislation to require screening for dyslexia as early as Kindergarten.  Also, even if there is no legislation, many State Departments of Education have policies and guidelines for school addressing this issue.  I would suggest going to your state's DOE website and looking for something you can use to persuade the school to test.  If the website is not user-friendly, call someone in the special education department at the state.

Make sure you have any screening or standardized testing that has been done, which with your daughter being in first grade might be minimal.  But there should be something to tell you where she stands in terms of reading.  Look for "below grade level," "at risk," and "not approaching standard," etc.  Also ask the teacher to do a quick assessment to see what grade level she is at.  Then send this information via email to the special education coordinator at your school building - don't spend any more time asking the teacher about evaluations.  Also tell him/her how much time your first grader is spending on homework.  Finally, request an evaluation based on the fact that you suspect your child may have a disability.  If your request is denied, make sure you receive a Prior Written Notice (PWN).  If you don't, ask for one.  If the PWN does not detail specific reasons for the refusal to evaluate, ask for a revised one that does.

If this doesn't get you anywhere, you still have options: 1) Get an outside evaluation - sometimes pediatrician offices can do these and sometimes insurance will cover.  Once you get the results, send them to the school.  2) Go up the "chain of command" - send your request to the principal, then the director of special education, and finally the superintendent.  3) File a State Complaint based on the school's failure to fulfill the "Child Find" obligation in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  4) File for Due Process.  This sounds like a scary option that requires an attorney.  But a single issue like this (requesting an initial evaluation) is totally doable without an attorney.  You would only need to bring the data I referenced above.  Chances are just the filing for due process would motivate the school to do an evaluation OR it would be something that would be reached during a settlement conference and there would be no need to go to the actual hearing.

 

https://dyslexiaida.org/testing-and-evaluation/

 

 

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I disagree with your school.

1-  Earlier intervention is best.

2- Dyslexia can be diagnosed/identified by the school as early as age 5.5.

3- It's less expensive to remediate a child who is 1.5 years behind than 3 years behind.

4- Delayed intervention can damage a child's self esteem in a way that is almost irreparable.  Even when self esteem is repaired, the person carries these scars for the rest of their life.  Why do this to a child?

I'd ask the teacher/school for research studies that show benefit to children when dyslexia evaluations are delayed until 3rd grade when there is a suspicion of this disability in an earlier grade.

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