Advocate group for students with dyslexia questions Park City School District reading plan |

Advocate group for students with dyslexia questions Park City School District reading plan

A Park City group that advocates for children with dyslexia and other reading disorders is voicing its concern that the Park City School District is not doing enough to help struggling readers.

Several members of the group PC READS spoke during the public comment period of the May 19 Park City Board of Education meeting. They shared their experiences of parenting children with reading disorders, saying that in many cases they have been forced to seek help outside the district.

"We wanted to make sure we spoke to the (Board of Education) before the year ended," said Jackie Blake, one of the founding members of PC READS.

Blake said the district’s current reading program for Kindergarten through third-grade students does not cover phonics and phonetic awareness, which are two concepts crucial for dyslexic students to learn. She said those concepts are covered in the out-of-district tutoring many families have sought.

"All of the students who use that type of teaching tend to become successful," she said, adding PC READS represents more than 120 families within the district.

For its part, the district has acknowledged some deficiencies in how it teaches reading. Ember Conley, superintendent, said that is why the district is restructuring that part of the cirriculum.

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"We are changing our reading program and are trying to bring light to the community and to our parents on the issue because we’re very aware of our lack of proficiency in our students," Conley said. "We’re changing what we’re doing."

An outline of the restructured reading plan states, among other details that: All educators in the district will be trained to teach reading, language and writing; Kindergarten through third-grade teachers will receive extra reading endorsements; and the after-school reading program will be changed.

However, PC READS claims the plan, while a step in the right direction, is scant on details. The group is worried the plan may not end up being an improvement.

"We are thankful that the K-3 reading programs are being evaluated right now," said Elissa Aten, the group’s other founder. " But we’re very concerned with how that outline will be completed."

Added Blake: "It has not been at all explained what type of training the teachers will be getting since they haven’t been providing this in the past. When we ask the hard questions, there aren’t any answers to them. We’ve been asking since September or October for those details."

Conley, who has met multiple times with representatives from PC READS, said the process takes time and cannot be completed overnight. However, she said the district is doing all it can to ensure the new reading plan meets the needs of every student in the district, including those with reading disabilities.

"We are not sitting back and not doing anything," she said. "I really want people to know that. We are moving and changing our system to really be responsive to the needs of our students. Many of us in this district have expertise in reading programs and how to deliver effective reading instruction and we will make it happen. We are putting the pieces in place."