An online newsletter produced by EdSource
with support from The California Endowment 


May 23,
Issue 50
Special Education Services
Hoping to substantially improve reading interventions for students who have dyslexia, considered the most widespread learning disability in the nation, the California State PTA is calling for screening in kindergarten through 3rd grade for symptoms of dyslexia and teacher training in instruction methods proven to be effective for students with dyslexia.

According to Sally Shaywitz, M.D., co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, dyslexia is a neurobiologically based disorder that manifests as a difficulty with the phonological component -- the sound structure -- of language.

The resolution from the California State PTA is the latest in a state and national effort to educate teachers, parents and lawmakers about students with dyslexia who are denied the help they need to learn to read. Shaywitz, who testified May 10 at a U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions hearing on dyslexia, said that untreated dyslexia has "dire consequences," that dyslexic students drop out of school at higher rates than their peers and that studies suggest that as many as 50 percent of prison inmates may be dyslexic.

The California State PTA resolution, "Dyslexia: Addressing the Educational Implications in Public Schools," was adopted unanimously at its annual conference in San Diego May 7. The resolution echoes the policy changes in screening and intervention sought in the new state law concerning dyslexia, Assembly Bill 1369. The law, which went into effect Jan. 1 and was authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, calls for the California Department of Education to develop "program guidelines" about dyslexia for parents, teachers, administrators and education professors before the start of the 2017-18 school year. The law was sponsored by Decoding Dyslexia California, a grassroots organization for parents.

A California Department of Education working group, which includes Dr. Shaywitz, has begun hashing out what those guidelines might be. The group's meetings are recorded, including its first meeting on April 21. Video from the May 19 meeting is in the process of being posted. Questions or comments about the dyslexia guidelines or workgroup meetings can be sent by email to
School Discipline and Climate
As schools across the nation work, often for the first time, to ensure a welcoming environment for students who are transgender, California has lessons to share, according to educators, advocates and students.

Read more at EdSource.
Frontline examines police in schools. The television show Frontline turns its attention to school resource officers with the program "Do cops in schools know how to police kids?"
The program cites a 2009 study by Matthew Theriot, a professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, that found that students with schools with school resource officers were nearly three times more likely to be arrested than students in schools without officers present.

Report finds court schools ineffective for juveniles. Most California schools for students detained in the juvenile justice system don't have staff that are trained to deal with difficult student conduct or effective curriculum to get students on track for graduation, according to a report from the Youth Law Center. Education is "critical" for these at-risk students and according to advocates, "the failure of the state's court schools represents a lost opportunity of stunning proportions."
Say no to zero-tolerance suspensions for bullying. Researchers from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that zero-tolerance programs that suspend students who bully "are not effective at reducing bullying and thus should be discontinued." Other approaches, including schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, are more effective, according to the researchers' report, Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice.

Hindu students, Christian America:
Hindu American students speak out about being bullied because of their faith and being subjected to Christian proselytizing by classmates in a new report from the Hindu American Foundation. The report, based on an unscientific survey of 338 students, called for teacher training and revised textbooks. Yashasvini Bathula, an 11th grader in Pleasanton, wrote that she is proud to wear the bindi, a spiritual symbol worn on one's forehead, but in 6th grade, students teased her. Textbooks, she said, "are evidently not doing a proper job...I want Hinduism to be understood, rather than being stereotyped and ridiculed."
By Robert Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The California Endowment

Both California's experience and the latest academic research validate the view that fewer suspensions and improved campus climates are critical drivers of academic achievement and school success.

During the past several years, California has reduced out-of-school suspensions by nearly 40 percent, while academic achievement (as measured by the Academic Performance Index) increased.

Read more at EdSource.
One district's story of an 'early warning system' for dropout prevention
How to include non-academic indicators in the new federal accountability system
"Going districtwide: Implementation lessons for using early warning systems and local risk indicators" will provide a case study of one district's experience using an early warning system for dropout prevention. The webinar is hosted by Regional Educational Laboratories West, part of WestEd.

 It is the fourth webinar in a series -- the previous webinars are archived -- about identifying and intervening to prevent students from dropping out.

Tuesday, May 24, at 10 a.m. PT
Register here.
"ESSA: Measuring student success through multimetric accountability" will provide a look at accountability under the new version of the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The webinar is hosted by ASCD, previously known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and will include a discussion of the non-academic metrics that are included as a measuring tool in the new accountability system.

Thursday, June 16, 12 noon PT
Register here.
School Lunch
Bring on the salad bars. Need a salad bar? Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, an initiative of the Chef Ann Foundation, the United Fresh Start Foundation and the Whole Kids Foundation, is encouraging schools to apply for salad bar grants. Dozens of California school districts already have received the salad bar grants, including Arcata School District in rural Northern California, Porterville Unified in the Central Valley and San Ysidro School District in Southern California.

House Bill would restrict 'community eligibility.' With the renewal of the federal Child Nutrition Act still under discussion in Congress, a new version of the act, known as H.R. 5003, would make it more difficult for schools in high-poverty areas to use a simplified procedure, known as community eligibility, to qualify all of their students for free or reduced-price lunch. The new version was proposed by the House Committee on Education & the Workforce.
Physical Activity
A new media campaign to get girls to see themselves as physically and mentally strong starts with a video of girls playing ice hockey. "When I'm out there being aggressive, it makes me feel like I can do anything," said Ramella, a 7th grader, on the video. The campaign, sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, promotes girls as tenacious, tough and competitive. It aims to keep girls active and offers ideas and a list of expert consultants for school staff to talk about physical education classes, alternatives to taking away recess as a disciplinary measure and after school games that are fun and lively.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children and adolescents ages 6-17 have at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity.

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