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Funding and support for your struggling reader in the US

by Laura Gordon | 30 May 2018

Your child’s school will inevitably play a critical role in helping your child to read. And – thanks to US programs, laws, and funding structures – there are good systems in place to make sure that the role they play is a positive one. In the US, there are two critical education acts that support schools and protect students: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Every Student Succeeds Act. These two acts are designed to help every learner reach their potential, regardless of their disability status or income. By understanding these Acts, you can become a powerful advocate in getting services for your son or daughter.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

A law that protects learners with disabilities and students who fall behind. Why should you know about it? IDEA ensures free screenings for any child who show signs of a learning disability (with or without a diagnosis), offers children with disabilities a specialized education plan, and requires schools to screen for “at risk” children and then offer appropriate interventions. What does it provide for you?

IDEA ensures that free screenings are available to every child who shows symptoms of a learning disability under the Child Find mandate. In addition to dyslexia, Auditory Processing Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder are among two other disabilities that can make reading difficult. To find out if your child is eligible for testing under the Child Find mandate, speak to their teacher. If your child is diagnosed with a learning disability, they may qualify for special accomodations and learning modifications.

IDEA offers your child with disabilities a special, individualized plan created by a team of teachers and specialists. These plans are called Independent Education Plans. If your child receives an Independent Education Plan, you will become part of a team focused on addressing your child’s goals and challenges. The process of making a plan for your child can be overwhelming, but as education writer Kristin Stanberry notes, parents play a critical role: “You may not be an expert about special education, but you are an expert about your child.”

IDEA requires schools to screen students for potential achievement gaps and then offer evidence-based interventions to those children who have fallen behind. This process, called Response to Interventions (RTI), ensures that even children without learning disabilities can get access to additional educational services within the public system. Reading Rockets notes that once a school identifies children who are “at risk,” they must provide those children with evidence-based instruction to address any gaps.

Every Student Succeeds Act

A law that ensures all schools will have access to adequate funding, regardless of the economic opportunities of the students. It provides additional earmarked money to schools, to be used to help children with low access to resources or funding. Why should you know about it? The Every Student Succeeds Act offers opportunities for parents and families to receive funding directly from qualifying schools, which they can also apply toward home-based education programs. The new Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind, is especially important for parents because it stresses our role in shaping school policy. What does it provide for you?

If your child attends a school that qualifies for additional resources under ESSA, you may also have access to specialized funding for parent-led educational activities, like the Easyread System. ESSA requires that these schools set aside 1% of their funds to carry out “parent and family engagement activities.” According to the Education Advocacy site, ReadyRosie, parent and family activities can include “programs that reach parents and family members at home, in the community, and at school.”

How Easyread Works with US Schools

At Helping Children to Read, our mission is to help every child become a successful reader. In addition to working with parents through home interventions, we also work directly with schools. Our Easyread system can be used successfully as part of an Independent Education Program, a Response to Intervention, or a Title 1 funded, parent and family engagement activity. Easyread provides results for struggling readers because it focuses on one area where children with reading difficulties often struggle the most: decoding. It uses an innovative, visual-phonics approach, called Trainertext Visual Phonics, that teaches children to decode with the help of colorful images. What’s more, this computer-based system has been shown to deliver real improvements to children in the classroom setting. In a randomized, controlled trial, children who used our system saw major gains relative to their peers who were using a standard intervention. You can read more about that on our research page here Over the years, we have introduced our program to schools through the efforts of dedicated parents.  Contact us to learn more about our program and what you can do to start a free pilot of the system in your child’s school.

Laura Gordon was a lecturer in English literature at the University of Maryland and editor for Public Health. She is a mother of two children and is now an Easyread System Manager for David Morgan Education, supporting children and their parents on the journey to confident reading and writing.

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