DANGER – Reading Failure Ahead!
I was naive when my children began school in that I put my faith in the school system to teach my children the basics.
To say I was shocked when my son failed to learn to read is an understatement.
He failed and he continued to fail until we sought outside of school help with a reading specialist when he was 10 years old. It cost a lot of money, and it shattered any joy of attending primary school. I was most surprised when I realised the school had an ad-hoc approach to teaching reading. It is really down to luck as to whether a school uses an evidence based reading program, and it is well established that teachers are not well prepared by their degrees to teach reading.
I have since become aware that 20% of year 4s across Australia are not reaching the minimum benchmarks for their reading. I once joked that this sign should be on the front gate of most schools.
The potentially catastrophic effects of low literacy is well known: low self-esteem, poor school engagement, truancy, school drop-out, school exclusion (suspensions and expulsions), internalising mental health problems (anxiety and depression self-harm, suicidality, substance abuse), externalising mental health problems (attentional disorders, conduct disorder), unemployment, unstable housing, and Incarceration. *Snow, P.C. (2016). Elizabeth Usher Memorial Lecture: Language is literacy islanguage. Positioning Speech Language Pathology in education policy, practice, paradigms, and polemics. International Journal of Speech Language Pathology,18(3), 216-228. DOI: 10.3109/17549507.2015.1112837.
What we Want;
1. We want early screening and identification of literacy difficulties including phonemic awareness screening in Preschool and Kindergarten and a phonics check in Year One.
2. We want educators who are knowledgeable about dyslexia and are educated in identifying it.
3. We want the education system to use current evidence based teaching practices.
4. We want effective evidence based literacy instruction in schools and high expectations for all students.
5. We want schools and teachers to be dyslexia aware and to give all students equitable access to the curriculum.
6. We want dyslexia to be destigmatised in the community.
7. We want action to alleviate the potentially devastating outcome of undiagnosed or unsupported dyslexia.
My lad is now a good reader and his self esteem is fantastic. His future is bright.
But spare a thought for the families and their children who are unable to access specialist help.
I care about kids too much to put up with this lackadaisical approach to teaching reading. I’ve been advocating ever since my son failed, and I will continue to advocate until the wrongs in the system are righted.
Please join us to help fight for what is right.
Dr Sandra Marshall
Code REaD Dyslexia Network.