How Do We Prevent Schools From Passing Students Who Can’t Read?

Taylor Washington went through school without being able to read.

Taylor Washington went through school without being able to read.

 The miseducation of Taylor Washington, who made it all the way through to college without being able to read, is dramatic but likely not rare.

Washington, a Somers soccer standout courted by a slew of Division I schools, was passed along through well-respected public schools, and made it through standout private schools. He was called brilliant by one teacher, lazy by another. In college, after nearly flunking out, he was finally diagnosed with dyslexia. (Read “Learning the hard way,” on LoHud.com)

How could that happen? Where’s the fault? The answers are neither simple nor obvious.

Some see a legislative solution. A bill sponsored by Assemblyman James Brennan, a Brooklyn Democrat, and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Howard Beach, and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, calls for school districts to specifically test for dyslexia. It would also require schools to have someone on staff certified in dyslexic education to assist the child or a certified outside source.

Learning issues

That would address one disability, one that an estimated 15 percent of the population may have, but ignore many more learning issues.

School districts, worried in the era of tight budgets and the 2 percent annual property tax levy cap, are already mandated to provide special education testing and services for all children who reside within their borders. Students who are struggling are often first offered learning supports. Sometimes that’s an adequate solution; sometimes it’s not. Children who are fitting in socially, and getting by academically, may never get tested, so their needs may never be known.

What’s the lesson to be learned from the case of Taylor Washington? That one size doesn’t fit all, and that involved parents — and teachers willing to advocate for the student — matter. As Dr. Susan Adler, a neuropsychologist, tells parents: “Go with your gut. If your instincts tell you there’s a problem, pursue it.”

Read more at Taylor Washington case shows there’s no easy answers on learning disabilities.

[Via - The Journal News]

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