Parents, teachers work to help children with dyslexia – Enid News & Eagle

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Cloudy skies this evening will become partly cloudy after midnight. Low 58F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: September 12, 2023 @ 10:28 pm
Roxi Hein, a kindergarten teacher at Chisholm Public Schools, poses with the LIPS board in her class. 
Kristen Jones is the director of elementary curriculum at Enid Public Schools and follows state-mandated reading programs to help all students with reading.

Roxi Hein, a kindergarten teacher at Chisholm Public Schools, poses with the LIPS board in her class. 
Kristen Jones is the director of elementary curriculum at Enid Public Schools and follows state-mandated reading programs to help all students with reading.
ENID, Okla. — Coatney Goyen has advice for parents with children with dyslexia: “Fight for your child, especially when no one else will.”
Goyen said her son had problems at school with words.
“He couldn’t read what was written on the board, it all looked funny to him,” Goyen said.
Signs your child may need help, according to Mayo Clinic, include:
• Learning new words slowly.
• Problems forming words correctly, such as reversing sounds in words or confusing words that sound alike.
• Problems remembering or naming letters, numbers and colors.
• Difficulty learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games.
• Reading well below the expected level for age.
• Problems processing and understanding what is heard.
• Difficulty finding the right word or forming answers to questions.
• Problems remembering the sequence of things.
• Difficulty seeing similarities and differences in letters and words.
• Inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word.
• Difficulty spelling.
• Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing.
• Avoiding activities that involve reading.
She could see him falling behind, so she pushed her school to test him, but said they would not.
“It’s hard to see your child so frustrated. I fought for him, and they would not listen,” she said.
Instead of getting help, her son was teased.
Goyen moved out of that school district and now is having a completely different experience at Dover Public Schools.
“An IEP, an individualized educational plan, at this school is a normal thing,” she said. “He is now calmer, happier and likes going to school.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia “is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.”
Dyslexia is a result of differences in areas of the brain that process language, according to Mayo Clinic. It is estimated as many as 1 in 5 children may have some form of dyslexia.
“Dyslexia is not due to problems with intelligence, hearing or vision,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Most children with dyslexia can succeed in school with tutoring or a specialized education program. Emotional support also plays an important role.”
Testing for learning disabilities is important, said Heather Johnson, executive director of Payne Education Center in Oklahoma City.
“The significance of testing for learning disabilities, especially ones like dyslexia, is extremely important, not only to the child but to our entire society,” she said.
She said studies have shown the U.S. economy bears a cost of up to $2 trillion a year for low literacy in the country. According to, two-thirds of students in the United States who cannot properly read by the fourth grade end up on welfare or in jail.
Darla Smith, Chisholm Elementary School principal, knows the significance of reading to success in school and in life.
“Early in my career, I taught in the prison system, and they assessed future prison needs on third-grade reading scores,” she said.
“At Chisholm we have a range of testing to determine reading skills and how we can help children,” Smith said. For reading, Chisholm uses the DIBELS test in kindergarten through third grade. It is a short (one minute) test to evaluate reading, followed by the STAR test that provides further data for teachers to make assessments. CBMreading is an additional screening assessment intended to identify students who are at risk for reading difficulties and to guide instructional decisions.
Smith said Chisholm does not diagnose, but provides screening for a child showing characteristics of dyslexia. A psychometrist does the testing for dyslexia and determines if a child has a learning disability.
Chisholm has Title One teachers for children with reading issues, Smith said, and has a special education teacher who works with students with learning disabilities. They teach the Sonday System from the Orton Gillingham program used worldwide.
Kristen Jones, Enid Public Schools elementary curriculum director, said the district does dyslexia awareness training for regional accreditation. Enid uses a computer-based program for testing called RAN.
EPS also uses the STAR program and IStation. The dyslexia program EPS uses is called Wilson. The district also does phonological awareness, one-on-one with a teacher and provides a psychometrist and two psychologists for the special education programs.
“The state Department of Education is stressing reading and the numbers on dyslexia,” Jones said. “I just got a call from a special education teacher from a small rural school district wanting some information about our dyslexia testing and keeping track of the information.”
The problems with identifying dyslexia and getting proper support and education can be confusing for parents with dyslexic children, especially when they are not in compliant school districts, in private school or are home schooled.
Katy Lentz homeschooled her children, but it eventually got to be too much for her. She has nine kids, eight of whom are in private school.
“We have children with learning disabilities and wanted them in a private, Christian school,” Lentz said. “Most of them did not want our kids, and we finally found Hillsdale Christian School.”
Although Hillsdale does not offer a dyslexic program like public schools, she said she found the school open to helping her children.
“Another parent struggling with her child’s dyslexia found someone to help,” she said.
Johnson, from Payne Education Center in Oklahoma City, came to Hillsdale and worked with teachers.
“They are supportive, but it isn’t enough if you don’t find a certified teacher of a dyslexia program,” Lentz said. She has found a private, certified dyslexia tutor in Hennessey. The other Hillsdale mother drives to Stillwater twice a week to have her child work with a tutor, Lentz said. She chose a certified academic language therapist with the Orton Gillingham-based programs that have the highest success rate. She describes herself as being “hyper vigilant.”
These mothers said they first were refused testing because their children were homeschooled or in private school or in a non-compliant public school.
“It is state mandated, and your school district must test even if you don’t go to a public school where you live,” Johnson said.
There is a way to request testing from the school district, she said.
“Send an email to the director of special education of the school district and they have to assess your child in 45 days,” Johnson said.
Garber Public Schools Superintendent Dusty Torrey said they were working hard in their special education program to help all children. They have many of the same programs as Chisholm, he said.
“We have a district reading plan that is approved by the state Department of Education,” Torrey said.
Jaci Tolbert, special education teacher at Pleasant Vale Elementary School, said reading and special education are important to their school.
“Education needs more certified teachers and we need to pay them more,” she said. “It concerns me, and should concern everyone, when we are hiring people who have not completed college or courses in education. We can mandate programs for dyslexia and other learning disabilities, but we need quality teachers and to pay them what they deserve.”
When Dudley Darrow started as new superintendent at Enid Public Schools he stressed reading.
“My No. 1 priority is raising our reading scores, and I am very serious about it,” he said.
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