School City of Hobart, as an Indiana public school system, is acting in accordance with Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 217 in order to address characteristics of dyslexia among our students. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has created an “Overview of Senate Enrolled Act 217 for Parents and Families” and it is available in its entirety on the IDOE website or by following this link. Below are excerpts of the IDOE overview as well as clarification on local control decisions applicable to the School City of Hobart.
“Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, Indiana’s public and charter schools must meet added requirements to identify, as early as possible, struggling readers who show risk factors for dyslexia and then provide systematic, sequential, and multisensory instruction to meet their needs.”
This identification is not a diagnosis of dyslexia; it is a screening for characteristics of dyslexia.
“All students in grades kindergarten through second grade will undergo universal screening to check their skills in six different areas. These areas are: phonological and phonemic awareness (ability to separate and change sounds in words), alphabet knowledge (name different letters), sound symbol relationship (phonics), decoding (reading), rapid naming (quickly name common objects), and encoding (spelling).”
School City of Hobart will screen students in Kindergarten, First, and Second grade within the first 90 days of school each year in order to allow for the most developmentally accurate results possible.
“Students who fall below a set score, or benchmark, on the universal screener will be found “at risk” and “at some risk” for the characteristics of dyslexia and get extra help to learn these skills.”
If a student scores below the benchmark, parents will be informed of the results. In addition, parent permission will be sought to give another screener (a Level I Screener). Based on the information from the Level I Screener, a starting point for intervention will be determined. The school may also ask parent permission to give a Level II Screener to obtain more information on the student’s instructional needs.
“None of the extra help or intervention means your child is receiving special education support.”
The Universal Screener, Level I Screener, and Level II Screener are not special education screeners and taking those screeners does not mean your child will be in special education.
“At any point during this process, parents or the school may request a full special education evaluation to see if the child may qualify with a specific learning disability that is definitive of dyslexia.”
Dyslexia is neurobiological in nature and not due to educational or environmental factors. An outside medical diagnosis and data may be helpful, but is not integral for educational eligibility of a specific learning disability. If a parent is concerned about a potential learning disability, then a request may be made for a special education evaluation through Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative.