Changes in Arlington (Va.) School District's Dyslexia Program Worry Parent

Marion Herbert's picture
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When Kim Neufeld was 6, her first-grade teacher took her mother aside and suggested that Kim be screened for dyslexia.

The teacher's observations were correct, and by the next year, the child was in special classes for dyslexic students at Arlington's Corey Elementary School.

"The Arlington schools were wonderful with my daughter," Emily Neufeld said. "She got all the support she needed."

Kim Neufeld is now an education major at the University of Texas at Arlington with a 3.75 grade-point average.

But her mother is worried that upcoming changes in the Arlington school district's program might not give other dyslexic students the same opportunities.

The district's three dyslexia centers for elementary students will be closed by the time school begins in August. They are being replaced with extra instructional support at the students' schools, said Debbie Williams, the district's executive director of elementary education.

Parents previously had the choice of their children receiving dyslexia instruction at school every day, or they could have students bused to a dyslexia center to receive one hour of adaptive instruction each day.

"In the past few years we've had less students at the centers," Williams said. "Parents have been choosing for their students to remain on their home campuses instead." As part of the new approach, the district's two certified academic language therapists will go to schools to work one on one with the children and their teacher facilitators, Williams said.

A third language therapist retired this year: another reason for the switch from the site-based instruction. Nearby districts have always offered dyslexia services at students' schools, Williams said, and it should work fine in Arlington.

"On the campuses we have a number of teachers who have been trained in dyslexia support," Williams said. "The students are always placed with a teacher who has had dyslexia training."

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