Saskatchewan human rights report highlights need for reading supports

Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission working to ensure ‘no child is left behind’ after several families say their children face discrimination in schools due to disabilities like dyslexia .

A systemic investigation began when the commission received complaints from 29 families in 2020.

Barry Wilcox, interim chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, said true access to education is not a privilege, but a human right.

“Our goal is to collaborate with individuals and stakeholders to ensure that students with reading disabilities have fair and equitable access to education in Saskatchewan. This report is the first of many steps in this process,” Wilcox said.

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The commission said it consulted with families, students, educators, health professionals and community organizations.

“Reading plays an essential role in the educational progress of our children and has a lasting impact on their lives. This report, and the resulting systemic initiative, provides an opportunity to make important changes in our province that will help build a better, more equitable future where no child is left behind.

The report states that learning disabilities can manifest themselves in different ways, including reading, writing, oral language and mathematics.

According to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, dyslexia occurs in about 20 percent of the population and accounts for about 80 to 90 percent of all people with learning disabilities.

The report states that due to a lack of surveys and reporting, the number of people in Canada with reading difficulties may be much higher than reported.

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In Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Education and many schools have abandoned the term “dyslexia” and used an umbrella term like “reading disorder.”

But the report suggests that dyslexia is the subject of much research and that a more specific term may help clarify the type of intervention needed.

“After a diagnosis, a person and their family can research and access the many resources available. They can also focus on what the diagnosis means and how to move forward with what the child needs to learn,” the report reads.

He pointed out that a difficulty or inability to read affects a child’s confidence, adding that students with reading disabilities often perform poorly in school and are more likely to drop out, less likely to go to post-secondary education and tend to take longer to complete a program. they register.

“Removing barriers for students with reading disabilities can also benefit students with other disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, hearing disabilities, vision disabilities, spectrum disorders (ASD) and ADHD, who often have difficulty reading for many of the same reasons as students with reading difficulties.

The report suggests that providing more education support could have major long-term benefits for millions of Canadians, pointing to research from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police that showed that improving education Literacy is a tool in the fight against crime.

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“People with childhood learning disabilities are over-represented among homeless youth and adults and
are also disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system and correctional facilities.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education has set goals for 2020 to have 80 per cent of students meet or exceed grade level in reading, writing and mathematics.

The report notes that this goal leaves about 36,000 students, or one in five students, not meeting these goals.

Figures reported for previous years were much lower, with only 66.8 percent of Grade 1 students meeting or exceeding this standard in 2019.

This figure drops even further when looking at First Nations, Inuit or Métis children, where only 40 per cent of Grade 1 children met or exceeded this target.

Inquiry reports from the commission’s report highlighted other issues, with families saying that having a child with reading difficulties can lead to additional costs and that navigating the education system could be quite difficult.

One parent even noted that her struggle to get help for her child was exacerbated by her own reading disorder.

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“It’s a constant battle to get the support needed, as a dyslexic myself, navigating the information and internal doubt of my own time in the school system, was incredibly difficult. Families face many obstacles when their child is diagnosed with learning disabilities that affect reading and writing, and most of them are completely preventable,” the testimony reads.

Screening issues were also highlighted, with professionals pointing to problems with school screening created by a lack of resources, adding that many students are not screened effectively or early enough.

A list of the most recurring themes during the preparation of the report was given:

  • Negative impacts of reading disabilities on students and families, emotionally, socially and financially;
  • Insufficient screening for reading disorders;
  • Complicated processes and systems for parents;
  • Inadequate reading instruction and specialized intervention;
  • Inconsistent hosting;
  • Long waits for a professional a*sessment;
  • Lack of teacher training and professional development regarding reading disorders;
  • Disproportionate reading achievement for Indigenous students; And
  • Lack of support and limited resources.

A long list of recommendations was given regarding next steps and a basis for creating further dialogue.

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Some of the recommendations included a universal screening strategy to detect reading disabilities, a review and update of the provincial curriculum regarding achievement standards, informing families with children with reading disabilities about intervention options and providing professional development for teachers to better teach and support. students with reading difficulties.

PKBNEWS contacted the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education and received a statement.

“The Ministry of Education is aware of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission report and will need additional time to review it to consider connections to work and initiatives already underway” , we can read in the press release.

He also highlighted current budget funding, saying this money “provides cla*sroom supports to ensure all students have equal access to and benefit from the provincial education program in an inclusive education context.”

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