This past November, the San Mateo County Office of Education collaborated with the San Mateo Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) to host a highly attended and well-received Dyslexia Summit.
Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder in the United States. According to the International Dyslexia Association, it is a brain-based condition characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
The summit came together after the County Office received a grant to assist the California Department of Education (CDE) in rolling out the California Dyslexia Guidelines. The guidelines were created in 2017 to help educators meet the needs of their students with dyslexia.
More than 100 attendees learned about the guidelines and how to implement methods for early detection and intervention and develop effective systems of support for students with dyslexia. Among the presenters were dyslexia experts Kathy Futterman, Ed.D.; University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) professor Fumiko Hoeft, MD, Ph.D.; UCSF clinical professor Nancy Cushen White; and Decoding Dyslexia’s California State Director Tobie Meyer.
“I was grateful I could attend this summit,” said one attendee. “[I] walked away feeling ready to help put our district plan into play.”
The high turnout and positive feedback reinforced the immense need among educators for resources on identifying dyslexia and applying effective interventions.
“The release of the CA Dyslexia Guidelines provides an opportunity to expose educators to updated research information to support the learning needs of children with reading difficulties,” said Associate Superintendent of SELPA, Anjanette Pelletier. “As more local education agencies engage in thoughtful planning about interventions, multi-tiered support systems and implementing educational best practices, having a set of guidelines that connects with parents and teachers is a positive thing.
“My hope is that evidence-based practices such as structured literacy will gain broader acceptance and adoption, and that more students will receive the supports and services they need to be successful learners.”
Since the November convening was sold out with 90 educators on the waitlist, the County Office of Education and the San Mateo SELPA will host another summit in March 2019 for all those who could not attend. All are invited to view resources on supporting students with dyslexia.