Tag Archives: Special Ed

Ann was “not bad enough” to qualify

When you homeschool your child, you can do Barton tutoring every day and close the gap much faster — as this parent shared: 

Thank you for making a way for me to help my daughter, Ann. We just finished the entire Barton Reading & Spelling System.

When my daughter was in 5th grade, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. But she was “not bad enough” to qualify for any special help in the school. Yet she was falling further and further behind each year.

I was a stay-at-home mom, so I did not have the financial resources to hire a private tutor.

Instead, I pulled her out of her full-time public school, and found a hybrid school that has your program, The Summit Academy in Colorado. I never would have had the confidence to even try to help Ann without your “scripted” lesson plans, and her teacher, Angela Dormish, who gave Ann your posttest at the end of each level.

It took us two years, but we finished. I feel closer to Ann than I have in years.

Ann will now go back into the classroom equipped with the skills she needs.

I write this letter through grateful tears. May God richly bless you for your incredible work.

Becky Worthley
Westminster, CO

Special Ed Teachers Can Also Be Heroes

I recently received this heartwarming email from a Special Ed teacher, who is also one of my heroes.  

I am having amazing success using the Barton System in my resource room.

A young man transferred to my school at the beginning of 7th grade, barely able to read at a second grade level. He absolutely hated school and was often absent.

His parents had tried everything. They had spent thousands of dollars sending him to Sylvan and to private tutors.

They heard about the success I was having with the Barton Reading & Spelling System. After his school refused to get the Barton System, they fought for 2 years to get an inter-district transfer so he could attend my school and work with me.

Success-Linari

He is about to graduate from 8th grade with excellent grades, perfect attendance, and is now reading at a 7th grade level. He was even elected by his peers to be their Student Body President.

Yet there is no one at the high school he will attend next year who teaches the Barton System. So a group of my students (who are now in the higher levels of the Barton System) are determined to start a Barton tutoring program there – and they have volunteered to be the tutors.

Geri Linari, Special Ed Teacher
Cuddleback Elementary
Fortuna, CA

Slow and steady wins the race

Slow and steady wins the race — and school testing proves it. 

I love getting success stories from Barton tutors — like this one.

One of my students did not talk until he was 4 years old, had speech therapy for years starting in preschool, had been in special education since Kindergarten, and was even retained once.

When I met him at the end of 8th grade, the special education teachers had just told his parents that they had tried all they could, but he was still unable to read even the most decodable first grade words.

This student is probably my most severely dyslexic student, but also the most motivated. He has worked SO hard and has even driven to my house for a lesson when school has been cancelled due to snow.

We have made slow but steady progress.

He is a senior in high school now and just finished Level 8.

SlowbutSteady

I got a text from him today that included a picture he had taken of his computer screen at school (see above) showing a graph of his progress on a school reading test – which is used to determine if a reading class is needed or not. Students need 1000 points in order to get out of the reading class and be freed up to take an elective.

His first score, 213, was from September 9, 2013. His last score, 1040, is from today, March 17, 2015.

I am just so proud of him and had to share the good news!

Karin Merkle
Certified Barton Tutor at the Advanced Level
Rapid City Dyslexia Care
Rapid City, SD

Trying to make a difference

Special Ed teachers are so frustrated with the school system that they often leave and become private tutors, as this one shared in a recent email: 

Susan, I have a real passion for the students who don’t catch on to reading and spelling when taught using regular curriculum.

In fact, that’s why I switched from being a regular ed teacher to a special ed teacher. I attended several Orton-Gillingham workshops and seminars, and I bought the first few Barton levels with my own money to use with my LD students.

For the past 2 years, I taught Barton as best I could within the special ed system – and got some fabulous results. My principal was amazed at the increased reading levels of my students.

Trying to make a difference

But with all the “red tape” and political stuff we have to deal with, the special ed system does not allow me to do what I am I really passionate about: meeting each student’s individualized needs.

I am not allowed to spend enough time, with the correct resources, in a small enough group to help my students become the best they can be.

Sadly, I know I cannot change the special ed system. So I have decided to leave and start offering one-on-one Barton tutoring.

I know not every parent will be able to afford to hire me. But I would rather serve a few children well, so they reach their potential, then continue to serve many students poorly.

Wish me luck. This is a big leap of faith, and quite a change for me. But it’s the only way I can do what I’m passionate about: helping these bright kids the right way.

The Barton System saved my daughter’s life

I love when parents take the time to send me their child’s success story, like this one: 

Dear Susan,

You must get hundreds of messages like this. But I can’t wait to share that my severely dyslexic daughter, who is now in Level 9 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System, just received the Duke TIP recognition award for scoring at the 97th percentile in Language Arts on her Stanford Achievement Test.

Wow! Let that sink in for a moment….

My bottom of the curve, “you need to read to her more” child – who hated school and had to repeat second grade — now devours her school work, and scores in the “Above Average” range, not only in Language Arts, but also in Science and Social Studies.

She LOVES to read now, and she writes the most incredible stories.

Saved My Daughters Life

When I bring up dyslexia at our parent teacher conferences, most teachers respond with wide eyes and disbelief. They can’t believe she has dyslexia because she is one of their top students.

“But it’s documented in her file. It’s severe. She has an IEP,” I remind them. Sometimes I need to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Last spring, she was 1 of only 7 students in the entire 4th grade who, on the last day of school, successfully passed the “4th Grade Challenge” to correctly spell and identify all 50 states on a map.

She also received an award and prize for the highest cumulative score on all of her spelling tests.

I am so lucky that her worried grandma found the Barton Reading & Spelling System online 3 years ago, and had the courage to order Level 1 and get started. By the end of my daughter’s first week of tutoring, we could tell that Barton was helping her – where everything else we had tried had failed. And she has continued to make great progress.

My daughter is so proud. She openly shares how much Barton tutoring has helped her.

I get teary-eyed just writing this email. What a difference the Barton System, carefully taught by a worried grandma, has made in my child’s life.

I can’t thank you enough.

Judy Stone-Collins, parent and now a
Certified Barton Tutor
New Orleans, LA

Not eligible for special education

Many children with dyslexia will not be eligible for special education services – not even if a parent brings in a diagnostic report.

In that case, fight hard for classroom accommodations – and get the right type of help after school.

This parent did not do that – and regrets it.

Dyslexia runs in my family tree. My father, who is 60, can still remember being in second grade and having the teacher call him up to the front of the class to read out loud. The teacher would force him to stand there and “do it until you get it right” – despite him crying in front of the entire class.

I have a degree in Elementary Education, but we never had a single solitary course – not even a single lecture – on dyslexia.

Yet when my daughter struggled in kindergarten, her teacher suggested the possibility of dyslexia because:

  • On DIBELS, she was not meeting benchmarks in nonsense word reading
  • She had terrible spelling and could not retain her spelling words — not even the high frequency words like “some”
  • She already had 2 years of speech therapy for R’s and L’s, but was not improving
  • She constantly confused left and right
  • And she still could not tie her shoes

What now-

At end of first grade, I asked the school to test her for a possible learning disability. The school said they wouldn’t test her until at least 3rd grade.

So during second grade, when she was not making progress in Tier 2 of RTI, I hired a highly qualified private professional to test her. She was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe dyslexia.

But when I shared that report with the school psychologist, he stated that dyslexia does not exist, that Susan Barton’s website was not a valid resource, and we could not even get a 504 Plan because he felt our daughter did not need it. He claimed she displayed no difficulties and would prove to be a good student.

Her teachers and even the principal were at that meeting, and they went along with the psychologist’s assessment – leaving us to wonder if we really knew what we were talking about.

We were so confused that we decided to follow the school’s advice — and regret it.

Our daughter is now at the end of third grade. Despite another year of phonics instruction and more RTI, she still struggles with spelling, sounding out longer words, and cannot comprehend her science textbook when she reads it herself. (But she has no trouble comprehending it when I read it TO her.)

The school did eventually test her, but her scores were not low enough to qualify for Special Ed services. And her report card grades are not too bad. She gets low B’s or C’s.

We have shown our daughter’s diagnostic report to other dyslexia professionals and organizations, and they have all agreed that she definitely does have dyslexia.

So what do I do now?

The problem with “Third Grade Guarantee” laws

Many states have recently passed, or are working on, a “Third Grade Guarantee” law, which includes mandatory retention for third graders who do NOT pass the reading portion of the end-of-year statewide exam.

Pam Collier, a parent in Ohio, gave me permission to share her email that explains why that law is as bad for students withOUT dyslexia as it is for those who do have dyslexia.

From: Pam Collier
Date: August 19, 2014
Subject: Third grade guarantee

Dear Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Ohio Department of Education:

I am writing out of concern for my three children and Ohio’s Third Grade Guarantee. I have three very different children, and the guarantee will effect each of them differently.

First, I have a 10 year old daughter who is accelerated. She has tested in the gifted range on her Terra Nova, and has scored well above the cutoff of the guarantee scoring — in the Accelerated range for math and reading.

Now you are probably wondering how the guarantee could have any effects on this student. Actually, it has had a huge impact. My daughter spent her entire third grade year being “taught to the test.”

Teachers are terrified of poor test scores which negatively impact their evaluations. Instead of challenging bright young minds, the system is telling these students, “We don’t care whether you have a special gift. We just need you to do well on this test.”

My daughter was afraid of failing the test because teachers are creating so much anxiety and placing way too much pressure on our students.

Now, I have a second daughter who is a twin. She is 7 years old. Because she is a twin, I started to notice differences in her learning very early. At the age of 4, I began asking if she was dyslexic, citing she was having trouble remembering letters, numbers, rhyming, etc. I was assured that she was fine, and that her twin (my son) was just advanced.

Fast forward to kindergarten, and first grade. I asked the same questions.

In my gut, I knew I had to do something. So I pursued outside professional testing for my daughter. She was diagnosed with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and a visual processing disorder.

We tried getting help through the school on several occasions, and were told, “We don’t do one-on-one tutoring, we don’t have the funds for that, we don’t have anyone trained to provide the remediation your daughter needs.” So I hired an Orton Gillingham tutor who was recommended by the International Dyslexia Association.

Now, because she is not on an IEP, she is not exempt from the guarantee. Not exempt!

A child with dyslexia, a visual processing disorder, and attention deficit disorder is not exempt from retention because of a single test? A child whose parents are paying over $5,000 a year to a private tutor because her public school cannot meet her needs? A child who was not identified by the school, but was identified because her parents paid for private testing?

A child who works 5 times as hard as a student without dyslexia to learn, who is also working outside of school with a private tutor, may be retained because of a single score on a single test on a single day, in a single year?

Now, mind you, if she should fail and be retained, the state has mandated that she receive remediation “from a qualified instructor, trained in the remediation of students with a disability in reading, from a program that is approved by the state board of education.” This, from the same school system that said, “We don’t have the time, funds, or individuals with training to help your daughter.”

The same school system that told my husband and I that our goals “were too high” for our daughter. Our goals were that she meet the same benchmark as her non-disabled peers by the end of her second grade year. Our goals were too high? That is what we were told. We are being told that we should not hold our daughter by the same standards due to her disability, yet she will be held to the same standard when taking the OAA.

The Third Grade Guarantee is not serving our children’s needs. Research has shown that retention will lead to higher dropout rates. Teaching to the test is devaluing our greatest young minds. We need to have teachers who can challenge our most gifted students, and specialists who can remediate our students with learning disabilities.

We are doing the very best we can for our daughter. My husband and I are both professionals, and we know what is working for her. What recourse will we have if our bright daughter with dyslexia, a visual processing disorder, and attention deficit disorder, fails the OAA? She will get held back for what purpose? To receive the “extensive remediation” she is already receiving privately?

Why is it a mandate to retain some of our brightest individuals based on a single test?

Why are charter schools not held to the same standards?

Why do public school students have to undergo more than a dozen standardized tests, while private school students do not?

When will educators from the Ohio Department of Education realize that retention is not the answer?

Sincerely,

Pamela Collier

My First Adult Student

As you may know, Susan Barton started in this field by tutoring adults with dyslexia. So emails like this make her heart sing.   

My first adult student was diagnosed with a ‘learning disorder’ in kindergarten. She graduated from high school, yet she could not read. When I met her, she was 26, fighting to recover from addiction, and had lost custody of her kids.

When I first started tutoring this woman a year and a half ago, she was in an adult literacy program at our local library. A friend of mine had volunteered to work with her using Laubach, but they were not making much progress.

When my friend had to move, she was worried about this woman, who was at such a vulnerable time in her recovery. So my friend asked me to take over. I was hopeful that the Barton Reading & Spelling System would work as well for an adult as it had worked for my younger students.

When I first met this woman, whenever she would try to read something, she would look up after EVERY word for confirmation from me that she had said the correct word. We are now in Book 4. Yesterday, she read an entire chapter in a real book with confidence — without looking up at me, and she was able to self-correct when necessary.

Long story short, my adult student can now read, and she has her kids back.

I am amazed, thankful, and thrilled with my success with such a “hopeless” case. Never ever give up on adults !!!

Barbara Suit, Certified Barton Tutor
Saratoga, CA

Never stop doing what you’re doing

This private Facebook post from an adult shares the trauma of going through school without the right type of help — far better than I can. 

I just wanted to say thank you for all of the work you are doing for kids with dyslexia. I just finished watching Embracing Dyslexia. You were in it, and I liked what you said.

I was one of the unlucky ones. In the 80’s, they had no idea what was wrong with me. I did not hear the word dyslexia until I was in junior high. By then, I was fighting the best I could just to keep up.

My home life was not great. There was no caring or support from my parents.

Some teachers made fun of me to my face. Others called me lazy. I was accused of not trying or being stupid.

Starting in fourth grade, the school put me in special ed classes. But they put everyone with special needs in the same room. The teacher had to help one kid who was in a wheel chair, a different student who was mentally retarded, one who had behavior problems, and a small group of us in the corner who seemed to be “faking it” because we were bright and smart, but we could not figure out how to read, spell, write or do math.

We did not belong in a class with really handicapped kids. We needed help, but not the same type of help. Friends would ask, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you in the class with the handicapped kids?” I had to answer, “I don’t know.”

Needless to say, my childhood was not fun. I was beaten down mentally and physically.

Mrs. Barton, never stop doing what you are doing. Make sure no other kid has to go through what I went through.

Make sure everyone understands what dyslexia is, and how they can help kids through it.

Do not listen to them

Parents, do not let anyone at your child’s school lower your expectations.  If your child has a dream, ignore the naysayers – and support your child as she follows her dream, as this mother did.

In elementary school, Lisa was in special ed because of her severe dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADD.  She also had buck teeth (the kids called her “beaver”), so she was a walking target for bullying.  Lisa had very few friends, and extremely low self-esteem. The bullying became so brutal that I switched her to a more caring private school for junior high.

At the transition to public high school IEP meeting, I was shocked by her low achievement test scores.  The IEP team asked Lisa to come in and share what she wanted to achieve in high school.  Lisa said, “I want to earn a regular high school diploma and be a cheerleader.”

The team members told Lisa that due to her low scores, she would NEVER earn a regular diploma (a modified diploma was the best she could expect), and they shared that no special ed student had ever become a cheerleader.

Lisa hated her special education English class.  It took half a year and countless meetings, including one with the head of special ed for the district, to convince them to give Lisa a chance to be in a regular English class.  They warned her that she would have to prove she could handle the material to remain in that class.

The next year and a half was a real struggle.  Lisa put in extremely long hours of study and work.  She even made up the first semester credit of that Freshman English class by going to night school at a local community college (a 2 hour commute) because the high school said it was not a “credit recovery” class.

Something amazing happened at the end of her sophomore year.  Lisa was selected to be on cheer, and it changed her life forever.

She learned her cheers, learned to do the stunts, learned that people could like her, and started to believe in herself – all while maintaining a high enough GPA to stay on cheer.

In her junior year, Lisa became her own advocate at her IEP meetings.  She insisted she had what it takes to earn a regular diploma.  The IEP team did not believe her, but agreed she could try.

Fast forward to this year – her senior year.  Lisa is doing extremely well.  She has a 3.6 grade point average.  She has just passed all 3 of the required graduation tests, so she will get a regular diploma.

Yesterday, we had her final IEP meeting.  Not one of the people who had originally told her she could not be on cheer, or get a regular diploma, showed up to congratulate her.    I realize they are busy people, but I so much wanted to tell them NOT to give up on students – and to give them a chance to follow their dreams.

Lisa is proof that through hard work and dedication, dreams really can come true.

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