Tupelo schools committed to dyslexia training

As we prepare to begin the 2007-2008 school year, please know that the Tupelo Public School District recognizes that the teaching of reading is the cornerstone of the entire educational process. Reading is simply fundamental to all learning, and a vitally important component in the process of teaching reading is being able to quickly identify and to address symptoms of dyslexia.

The Tupelo Public School District is fully committed to providing our teachers with effective and intentional training in the Orton-Gillingham methodology. It is generally recognized that this particular methodology is the foundation for all successful dyslexia programs. Our goal is to equip our teachers with the tools to directly address the problems in their own classroom, but perhaps as importantly, to know when a referral is warranted and to whom the referral should be made.

Along these lines, we are pleased to announce that the Tupelo Public School District has again been awarded a dyslexia grant for the 2007-2008 school year from the Mississippi Department of Education.

These funds will be dedicated to the district’s efforts in training teachers to serve students with learning differences, specifically those exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia.

During this past school year, these grant funds were used to provide introductory level training in Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory reading instruction techniques and methods and to provide a three-day, follow up training session for all K-3 classroom teachers and interventionists. C. Wilson Anderson, a certified Orton-Gillinghamfellow conducted the on-site training which enabled classroom teachers to acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to provide systematic instruction, to provide assessment needed to monitor student progress, and to identify students who may need more intensive instruction. Grant funds during the 2007-2008 school year will be utilized to provide this same training for all 4th- 6th grade teachers and interventionists. By the conclusion of this school year, all TPSD teachers, grades K – 6, will have been trained in the Orton-Gillingham methodology for use at the classroom level of instruction. In addition, it should also be noted that each K – 3 school is served by a reading specialist.

For those students who are identified as having reading difficulties specific to the nature of dyslexia, tiered levels of intervention are available on each K – 6 campus. In addition, another Orton-Gillingham program called “Recipe for Reading” will be provided through instructional interventionists on each K – 6 campus in the Tupelo Public School District. This is a phonics-based reading program that is aligned with the research cited in the National Reading Panel frameworks. This particular program provides access to multi-sensory, systematic, direct phonics instruction. Through visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities, students begin with individual sounds, then blend sounds to read words, phrases, sentences and stories.

At an even more intense level of intervention, the Texas Scottish-Rite Dyslexia Therapy Program is available on each campus of the Tupelo Public Schools. This intervention program is supported by intense research and was declared by the National Reading Panel in 1997 to be one of only ten programs appropriate to target severe reading difficulties. This program, which was developed over a ten-year period, offers the learner access to a certified Academic Language Therapist via electronic media. These therapists must complete an intense program of study requiring 820 clinical therapy hours before they are eligible for licensure. Obviously, the success of this program is based upon having dedicated interventionists/facilitators to work with the children in the therapy groups.

The administration, teachers, and staff of the Tupelo Public School District are looking forward to a great school year in 2007-2008, and we will continue to work to meet the needs of all students. Our commitment to dyslexia training and services is an example of those efforts. Thank you very much for your continued support of the Tupelo Public Schools.

Contact Randy McCoy at his e-mail address, rdmccoy@tupeloschools.com.