Please write a book on 504 accommodations that includes ideas specific to dyslexia with emphasis on reading, writing & spelling. I need information on 504 accommodations beyond the typical ‘extended time’ – things like the use of text to speech for high stakes tests such as PSAT, ACT/SAT, and medical school/grad school exams. – from ‘Trapped in Whole Language’
All the accommodations in the world will not teach a child with dyslexia how to read, write, spell, and do math.
If a child has dyslexia, and needs special education services to learn how to read, write, and spell, that child is eligible for services under an IEP.
Section 504 Simply Allows Access to Education
Section 504 is a civil rights law that prevents schools and other entities from discriminating against people with disabilities. 504 is not an education law, and does not require schools to provide an appropriate education to kids with disabilities, including dyslexia. 504 simply allows access to an education – nothing more.
Assume a child is in a wheelchair, wants to take chemistry, but the chemistry class and lab are on the second floor of a school that doesn’t have an elevator. Under 504, that child is entitled to access to an education, same as kids who aren’t disabled, so the school must provide the child with access to the chemistry class. That may involve installing an elevator or moving the chemistry class and lab to the first floor.
Years ago, the parents of a 9th grade boy with dyslexia consulted with Pete because the school was not providing accommodations – specifically, books on tape — in a timely manner. When the new school year started, the boy did not get the books on tape for several weeks, so he fell behind his classmates.
Pete asked the parents why they weren’t focusing on ensuring that the boy learned how to read, write, and spell. The parents had accepted the teachers’ beliefs that the boy couldn’t learn to read well because he had dyslexia.
Long story short – the parents placed the boy in a private special ed school for kids with dyslexia. That school taught the boy to read, write, and spell. Since the public school was not able to teach these skills, they had not provided him with an appropriate education, the private school did provide an appropriate education, so the parents requested that the school district reimburse them for the cost of his private school education.
The case went to due process, the parents prevailed, the school reimbursed them for the cost of the boy’s education in the private school.
Focus on Ensuring Your Child Learns to Read, Write, and Spell
When Pete was 7, his parents realized that he wasn’t learning how to read, write or spell. This was in the 1950s, long before the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was enacted. The teachers in his public school didn’t know how to teach him.
His parents had him evaluated by a psychologist in the private sector who diagnosed Pete as having dyslexia (reading disability), dysgraphia (writing and spelling disability), dyscalculia (math disability), and hyperactivity (ADHD). His parents located an Orton Gillingham tutor who worked one-on-one with Pete, every day for two years. He also went to a residential program in the summer.
After two years of remediation, his reading, writing and spelling skills were above grade level. The learning disabilities were no longer an issue, although he continued to have problems related to ADHD. Pete reads faster than me, and his handwriting is more legible than mine.
Most Public Schools are not Providing Appropriate Educational Remediation to Kids with Dyslexia
Fast forward from the early 1950s to 2011. Sixty years after Pete had remediation and learned to read, etc, most public schools still aren’t providing appropriate educational remediation to kids with dyslexia. Many schools say they don’t provide any services to kids with dyslexia — even though “dyslexia” is listed in the law as a “specific learning disability.”
Teachers don’t know how to teach dyslexic kids how to read, write, spell, or do arithmetic. If schools do anything for these kids, they provide accommodations. My least favorite is the “read aloud” accommodation where teachers read test questions to dyslexic kids, because no one taught the kid to read.
I’m not opposed to extended time on tests. I think everyone should have extended time … if we really want to find out if they know the material v. how fast they can fill in bubbles on a test.
Sorry for the rant, but we won’t write a book about 504 for dyslexic kids — putting these kids on 504 plans does not ensure that they learn the basic academic skills, and it causes delays in getting the kid the remediation he or she needs.