March 5, 2014
Recently Forbes Magazine ran an article suggesting that the diagnosis of dyslexia really doesn’t matter. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorrison/2014/02/27/dyslexia-is-a-meaningless-label-and-should-be-ditched/)
In an ideal world, every struggling reader would receive the intervention(s) needed to unlock the code. In reality, almost 40% of fourth grade readers in the United States do not read at a basic reading level. They have great difficulty decoding the printed word from the page. Over 60% of them do do read proficiently, with good comprehension. 90% of these struggling readers are not dyslexic; their neurological circuits are not miswired. They are instructional casualties. They have not been taught to read.
Dyslexia is an important diagnosis for two reasons. First, it can be a springboard to appropriate services. This should be reason enough for a diagnosis. Second, it can help parents and children understand why reading is difficult. It has nothing to do with raw intelligence; it has everything to do with how the brain is wired.
Equally important and often swept under the rug, what about our instructional casualties? Don’t schools have a moral obligation to be addressing this travesty?
As Louisa Moats, a renowned reading expert, said, “Teaching reading is rocket science.” We now know the formula. It is the responsibility of higher education and school administrators to be sure our nation’s teachers are equipped with that information and know how to apply it in the classroom. Our children, our nation’s most precious resource, deserve to be taught properly.