Friday, October 18, 2019

Helping students become successful readers

A column by Secretary of Education Dr. Ben Jones

We cannot overstate the importance of reading proficiency for all South Dakota students. October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, and I wanted to take this opportunity to spotlight the things we do at the state level to support educators in providing kids high quality reading instruction.

At the state level, the Board of Education Standards adopts content standards on a cyclical basis. South Dakota’s English language arts standards were last updated in 2018, and full implementation of those standards is now underway.

Since the standards were adopted, department staff have worked with educators to disaggregate, or “unpack” those standards, so that they are easier for classroom teachers to use effectively. This past summer and continuing into this fall, we are offering trainings on how to use the unpacked standards.

Additionally, Department of Education staff facilitate a variety of professional development opportunities aimed at training educators on the five foundational reading skills of fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, phonemic awareness, and phonics. When teachers use strategies focused on these five foundational skills, those strategies can help all readers, including struggling readers, like students with dyslexia.

This fall, we have also worked with Dr. Kari Oyen and Dr. Daniel Hajovsky from the University of South Dakota to offer trainings (which filled quickly) for district/school teams to learn about helping students with dyslexia. The trainers will then provide follow-up consultation on a suspected case of dyslexia in the team’s district to help ensure the training transfers into effective practice.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month

Executive Proclamation
Office of the Governor
State of South Dakota

WHEREAS, dyslexia is a language-based, neurological specific learning disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, spelling and decoding, and writing; and

WHEREAS, these difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language, and secondary consequences of dyslexia may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge; and

WHEREAS, the presence of dyslexia is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities; and

WHEREAS, dyslexia occurs on a continuum of severity, affecting between 10 and 20 percent of the population according to the National Institutes of Health; and

WHEREAS, parents and educators of students who struggle to overcome dyslexia across South Dakota and the nation have come together to advocate for reforms to support their children, namely a universal definition of dyslexia, teacher training, early screening, evidence-based remediation programs, and access to appropriate assistive technologies; and

WHEREAS, South Dakotans and all stakeholders in education across the state of South Dakota will benefit from increased awareness of the nature of dyslexia, the early warning signs of dyslexia, and the value of scientifically based multi-sensory structured language interventions and teaching strategies designed to better educate students with dyslexia; and

WHEREAS, greater recognition of dyslexia is necessary to ensure that individuals with dyslexia living in South Dakota are accurately identified and provided with appropriate services so they might learn to read proficiently in order to reach their full potential and contribute to society

NOW, THEREFORE, I, KRISTI NOEM, Governor of the state of South Dakota, do hereby proclaim October 2019 as


in South Dakota.