When you find out your child has a learning struggle, you face a hard mountain that you need to climb. Your climb can be made easier sometimes by accepting the hand from someone who has gone ahead of you.
STEP 1: Identification
The Response to Intervention (RTI) letter from my son’s school came home to me in his backpack when he was in the first grade. The RTI letter seemed so formal and cold. His teacher kindly explained that the letter was about what she had mentioned to me earlier that my son’s reading level wasn’t progressing as fast as expected. He was behind on his reading level even after we paid for a summer reading program and after we had paid for a private kindergarten program, I was shocked when I read the RTI letter and had so many questions.
I am a researcher and gather information by nature. The school RTI reading program didn’t seem to be helping fast enough. My son was starting to lose confidence and comparing his reading level to other kids in his class. He wondered why he couldn’t read a picture book, yet other kids in his class were reading chapter books. I realized that if I did not start getting him more help quickly that he was probably going to give up on reading.
How can you prevent your child from losing confidence when they are struggling with reading? If you live in Texas, start with looking at the recent MAP test from school for your child. The Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Growth assessment, normally called “The MAP test,” is given electronically at school each quarter to check your child’s individual reading and math progress. The MAP test will list a “lexile level” (with a light gray background highlighting “lexile level” and a range of numbers) under reading progress that will show on a conversion chart of lexile level and grade level. You will always be able to know at which grade level your child is reading by looking at the MAP test results.
Check your child’s reading lexile level with a conversion chart that shows corresponding grade level.
Start keeping a copy of all MAP tests, since the MAP test will only show the Lexile level of the most current test, not previous results. Don’t worry. If you haven’t kept a copy of the previous MAP tests, feel free to ask your child’s teacher for the previous results. This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship of working with your child’s teacher.
The school was telling me that testing to see if he qualified for the dyslexia class wasn’t going to happen until 2nd grade. Seeing my son lose confidence in himself in first grade, when he was a normally very confident, athletic kid. It broke my heart. I started asking other moms at school about the testing process, learned that the “wait to test until 2nd grade” was a regular school practice but only because they weren’t currently offering dyslexia class until the 2nd grade, and learned that my son could be tested for dyslexia for free through Scottish Rite Hospital without waiting until 2nd grade.
In most cases in a state with strong dyslexia laws, like Texas, you can request testing at any time for dyslexia and a Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) at your child’s school. You don’t have to wait until your child is failing. The request for testing needs to a written request for a Full Individual Evaluation. There are laws in place to protect kids that require the school to do FIE testing if there are academic or behavioral struggles that are impacting the classroom.
If you are looking for a sample letter of an FIE request, email me the words “testing letter for son” or “testing letter for daughter” in the subject line so that I can provide you with a free word document that has the exact wording that you need to request testing for your son or daughter. However if the school is slow to do the testing after receiving your written FIE request or refuses to follow the law, then testing at a place like Scottish Rite might be the right next step for you.
Based on my experience, the Scottish Rite testing process can take on average three to six months. The doctors at Scottish Rite were amazing and able to give results about my son’s dyslexia identification in the spring of 1st grade, even before the school started testing. I was thankful that we went through Scottish Rite, my son didn’t have to wait an additional three to six months of 2nd grade waiting for the school to test him. My son was able to start the dyslexia program at his school within the first couple of weeks of 2nd grade. The Scottish Rite doctors are super knowledgeable and have your kid’s best interest at heart. They have a very kid friendly waiting area with toys and even let each child tested pick out a brand new toy to take home at the end of the testing.
To apply through Scottish Rite for testing check out their application process.
Scottish Rite Hospital: Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders Application for Evaluation.
No matter which option you choose to seek identification for your child, trust your gut that you are making the right step forward to getting your child help.