Under a 2022 addition to Idaho statute, every certified educator in Idaho is required to be trained in strategies for teaching dyslexic students by 2025 or risk losing their certification to teach.
And the classes, typically offered by third party vendors, aren’t cheap.
But now the class will now be available through IEA’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) — thanks to nine Idaho Education Association members who stepped forward to serve on a special task force, IEA’s strong relationship with the Idaho Department of Education and little extra help from a National Education Association grant. It’s first session will be taught at the 2023 Summer Institute.
“This option makes it much more affordable for our members to meet the requirements of their re-certification and keep their knowledge around dyslexia current,” said IEA Region 4 Director Linda Jones, who helps administer CTL. “IEA members stepped forward to address this need and created a fantastic new professional development opportunity.”
The dyslexia training requirement came from a new law that hit the books in 2023. It directs the Idaho Department of Education to screen students for dyslexia and provide professional development training for educators about the learning disorder. IEA members supported the legislation during the 2022 legislative session.
“It’s something that’s very valuable and that teachers support,” IEA Executive Director Paul Stark told lawmakers at the time.
However, the Legislature did not include funding for the professional development mandate, leaving educators on the hook for that expense. Trainings offered by third party vendors often run in the thousands of dollars.
As a result, IEA President Layne McInelly established IEA’s Dylexia Task Force to explore options for building a training that would meet the requirements of the law and educator re-certification. Chaired by Peggy Hoy, Idaho’s NEA director, the task force was made up of nine IEA members and staff with expertise and interest in the topic and included educators from all parts of the state and from the elementary, middle and high school levels. McInelly and Hoy also successfully applied for a $15,000 NEA grant to fund the committee’s work.
According to Hoy, the key to the task force’s success was the establishment of a strong working relationship with the Idaho Department of Education, the entity responsible for enforcing the new law’s mandate, in creating the course.
“It was really nice to have a strong collaborative effort with the state Department of Education,” Hoy said. “They worked closely and patiently with us to ensure our class had all of the key elements of the rubric of requirements they’d developed.”
The course, according to its syllabus entry for the CTL’s Summer Institute offering, “will delve into the neurobiological origin of dyslexia as well as characteristics of the dyslexic brain at all stages of life.”
“We wanted to have a class that was relevant to all educators,” said Hoy. “It offers strategies educators can deploy no matter what content they teach.”
The class is available free of charge for all members when taken through the CTL. Non-member educators can take it for a fee of $100. Once completed successfully, securing the credit for re-certification costs $55 through Idaho State University.