September 19, 2019
Documentary Recounts How Upper Arlington Parent Group’s Demand for Change Has Impacted All Students
Columbus, OH – For students, the start of a school year brings early morning alarm clocks, new schedules and homework. For parents, it can bring a collective sigh of relief. For parents with incoming kindergarteners to the Upper Arlington School District, probably an even bigger sigh of relief because the district now screens each incoming kindergartener for signs of dyslexia, a reading disability that scientists estimate affects up to 20% of the population. This is a big undertaking considering there are hundreds of incoming kindergarteners to the district, which is one of a few across the nation administering an early reading screening of this type.
The early screening efforts and other changes to the district came about in 2012 after the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) found the district in violation of federal and state laws regarding promptly and properly identifying students with learning disabilities and finding these students eligible for special education services. Kevin Gorman, Director of Student Services for Upper Arlington Schools, says the screenings help them identify children early on who could benefit from scientifically based reading instruction and prevent reading failure in the first place.
A documentary that will be released locally late fall titled “Our Dyslexic Children” details how a group of 19 families initiated and filed a group complaint that resulted in ODE mandating the school district implement corrective actions. These included the district training teachers and staff how to identify and evaluate students with suspected learning disabilities. The district then had to learn how to teach children with dyslexia how to read using scientifically based reading instruction.
The film’s Executive Producer, says it is a story of courage and hope and “a story of one school system’s transformation from failing our children to teaching our children to read. Isn’t that why kids go to school in the first place?”
The makers of the film hope the message that parents can come together to effect great change will resonate with other parents and school districts across Ohio and the nation. The film’s trailer has had over 70,000 views on social media.
Aaron Blevins, Film Director
Executive Producer, Our Dyslexic Children
Kevin Gorman, Director of Student Services, Upper Arlington Schools