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Parents ask BOE to support dyslexia training for teachers

Parents of children with dyslexia are asking the Demopolis City School System to consider training the would assist teachers to identify dyslexic students early so they may receive the proper instruction.

Suzanne Young and Ashley McCurdy spoke to the Demopolis Board of Education about the training program, LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling). “By teaching the science behind literacy instruction, LETRS gives teachers the ability to improve the way they teach and change children’s lives, especially those who have reading challenges,” Young said.

Currently, the system utilizes SPIRE, a reading intervention program for struggling readers. But, the parents said identifying the specific needs of their children could have come sooner with a program like LETRS. McCurdy’s child was placed in the school’s tier III reading intervention program, which involves receiving additional help from retired teachers.

“Over a five-month period of tier III intervention, (the child) only made one month of progress. She went from an eight-month gap at the beginning of the year to an 11-month gap by the middle of the year. In January, she was placed in SPIRE, the dyslexia specific intervention. Over a four-month period she gained over a year of growth. This proves just how imperative it is to put these children in the correct intervention,” Young said.

According to Young,  LETRS training is pursued individually by teachers. “Our hope is that (the training) will be strongly encouraged by administration,” she said.

She added that the state provides the funding for the two-year course, including any travel and substitute teaching expenses that may be involved. The program could become a requirement for all new teachers if the Alabama Literacy Act is passed.

Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said the system will be working to train retired teachers in SPIRE as additional resources for dyslexic students.

Other items addressed by the board included:

• eliminating the Education Training Career Tech Program at DHS. Kallhoff said the system would be losing two teacher units and the program would no longer be supported.

• revising central office summer working hours to Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from May 28 through July 26.

• approving job vacancies for a Tech Network Administrator and Social Worker.

• approving summer field trips for Scholars Bowl, basketball team, and FBLA.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 24, 5:15 p.m., at the central office.