The Road to Discovering Part 5: If it reads, spells, & writes like a dyslexic, it is NOT a dyslexic.
by Chontae Feldman
Here I am, 2 years later. Right back at the start.
My youngest has had struggles. Still has struggles. She is in 2nd grade. Just like Julia, Carly's teachers have brought up concerns for dyslexia related symptoms.
Here I was trying to NOT see it. To have a child that is fine and not struggling. But I saw it too.
Don't get me wrong, I now see my dyslexia differently, and I want my girls to see it that way too. But I also want them to not struggle.
So, I requested that Carly be tested for dyslexia. I realize my mistake. I did not request the FIE (Full Individual Evaluation) under Special Education. I know. I know better.
The ISD agreed and started their steps.
Did you know that if you request for a dyslexia test, you get a RTI (Response to intervention) test? I was under the understanding that they could run the RTI and dyslexia evaluation at the same time; that RTI was not suppose to delay evaluation of dyslexia. However, they had to check certain boxes and follow their system.
The RTI did lead to the dyslexia test. They agreed that she qualified to be evaluated for dyslexia. This was a total waste of time, and yes, delayed evaluation for dyslexia.
Carly was denied. The district dyslexia team met independently, outside of the 504 team and determined she did not have dyslexia, or qualify for services.
When the decision was brought to the 504 team meeting (December 12, 2017), none of that was not discussed. Since the ISD had predetermined that she was not dyslexic, in a meeting without me, that was that.
However, the 504 team DID decide that Carly would benefit from the dyslexia program (I do not recommend this if you are not done with evaluations - more later on this). The 504 team put Carly on a 504 with Accommodations and she now had access to Learning Ally (I had to push for this one because they only give this to students with dyslexia).
I left the meeting somewhat happy that she would be getting some services she needed, but broken and frustrated.
So, after hours of tossing and turning, that same night, in bed, I pulled out the handbook and read. And reread. And kept reading.
Its unbelievable how many laws were not followed.
This is a problem bigger than our ISD, it's the whole state that is functioning this way. Remember the Houston Chronicle "Denied" series?
Dec 7, 2017
I sent the 504 team a letter about my findings and violations of laws. I sent info on Carly and dyslexia and requested a new 504 meeting. I copied the ISD dyslexia lead.
Instead of a 504 meeting, the ISD requested an FIE.
Here is where I wish I had requested it. With Julia, it was a full and comprehensive evaluation.
With Carly, the evaluation was, well, lacking and just meeting the minimum requirements.
In fact, when it was combined with the RTI & Dyslexia evaluation.... it was HALF the evaluation that Julia received. HALF. I asked the evaluator about missing subtests. Subtest that find our "hiding" dyslexics. I received "I ran the test I was told to do." She admitted that this was the first time she had been asked to do one for dyslexia. I honestly do not think she knew anything about dyslexia. She just gave a test and turned over everything to the district to evaluate the information and make their decision. Carly's evaluator is a SSP, LSSP.
Being data driven, I compared Julia's test and scores to Carly's. If I put Julia's testing data into Carly's, Julia would not appear dyslexic as well. Like NOT AT ALL. Julia would only have a slight difficulty with phonics.
April 18, 2018
I went into the ARD meeting like it was an ARD meeting. I had my binder full of info on Carly, dyslexia, the Texas Dyslexia Handbook (which was tabbed and highlighted), and sample after sample of her school work.
Instead, I walk in to a DNQ meeting. DOES NOT QUALIFY. There was no ARD meeting. The district had met and predetermined that Carly did not qualify for services. I was not even invited to any such gathering of the minds.
There was to be no ARD team discussion on any of it. None. For the most part, the people in the room were read the results of the FIE and read the decision. Once again, Carly was predetermined without any parent input.
There was no talk of informal data gathered by the teachers. There was no talk of Carly's performance in the class with regard to the evaluation. There was no discussion. It was not up for discussion.
Being that they still had to do all the checkmarks for the meeting, I was able to get my words in. I read from the Texas Dyslexia Handbook. I read from published work on how Carly is dyslexic with relation to the evaluation and her performance in the class and at home.
I told them about Surface Dyslexia, Phonological Dyslexia, Dyseidetic Dyslexia, Stealth Dyslexia, and Orthographic Dyslexia.
There was to be no discussion on any of it. NONE.
The district determined that based on the evaluation alone, Carly did not meet the district criteria for dyslexia. Never mind that Carly meets Texas requirements. Nope. The ARD team had no say in the decision. AT ALL. No one was willing to speak up.
I signed in disagreement. This means that the ARD team will continue to meet until we come to an agreement.
I do not see this happening. Carly's voice was not heard.
I was asked if they could make copies of my notes and pages I read from the Texas Dyslexia Handbook.
February 19, 2019
I submitted my request for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at Public Expense, and I started researching evaluators and included my choice in the request.
All that was left to do was wait.
And check my e-mail constantly.
I knew Carly was dyslexic. I hate that we have to fight so hard to show our schools.
I hate that the TEA has done this to our districts.
This process is so frustrating.
But I can honestly say that I could not have done any of this without the support and guidance of my village.
Notes: In the initial meeting with the School Psychologist (before the evaluation), when I approached the subject of dyslexia, she said "the book was closed on that one". The district had made their decision and she would not be evaluating Carly for dyslexia. I shot off emails and was assured Carly was being evaluated for dyslexia and that it would be a full evaluation.
I requested that they hold off starting Carly in the dyslexia program until all evaluations were complete. With my help at home and the dyslexia instruction at school, I was worried it would affect the evaluation. I was assured by the district dyslexia director that it would not be an issue, but I knew it would. And, spoiler alert, it was.
I did bring this up in the DNQ meeting, and crickets.
Part 6 coming soon!
Chontae Feldman is a co-founder for The Dyslexia Initiative. She is dyslexic, and a mother of 2 dyslexic daughters.