FCPS IEP Meeting: "Just Words" Not Endorsed for Dyslexia, FCPS Dsylexia Training of Teachers Slow, Not "At the Rate that We Need It"

How are we going to train all these teachers in Fairfax, you know, at the rate that we need it? We need to build that capacity. Some teachers are going to struggle even with Orton Gillingham, because it does require teachers to be very prescriptive and, well diagnostic first and then prescriptive in how they tailor their lessons.

Dottie Skrincosky, Fairfax County Dyslexia Resource, Region 5 Point of Contact, Intervention and Accommodation

The following is a partial transcript of an IEP meeting that occurred toward the end of the 2019-20 school year.

Months earlier, the parent had stated that the program "Just Words" did not meet the unique needs of her son who was diagnosed with Dyslexia. This is not this parent's first time at the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) Dyslexia rodeo. She was joined by two friends who know the rodeo and Dyslexia well, too.

The honesty of Dottie Skrincosky was refreshing, but concerning just the same.

The partial transcript is being shared with permission of the parent. The audio is not being shared because it provides personally identifiable information.

Family Friend #1 34:29

I have a question about the Just Words program. So you're saying that he's making progress with sight words? Is that correct? But he's not making progress with phonetically regular pattern words. Is that correct?

Karen Tuttle  34:50


Kelly Teclesenbet  34:52

I wasn't sure who you're asking. I'm sorry.

Family Friend #1    34:55

I'm asking anyone. You all have the data. So you're telling me that he has made progress from sight words of irregular patterns but he's not made progress with words of regular pattern? Is that correct?

Kelly Teclesenbet  35:08

No, I didn't say that. That's what mom said.

Family Friend #1    35:13

What, what is the data surrounding, um, sight- irregular words versus regular pattern words?

Kelly Teclesenbet  35:22

So I guess it would depend on which type of pattern you're looking for, because his goals are specific on different patterns.

Family Friend #1    35:29

Okay, let me let me back this up for you. On the Just Words program, what unit is [student] on?

Kelly Teclesenbet  35:40

He is on unit seven, I believe. I don't have his, um, workbooks with me.

Family Friend #1    35:47

Okay, and then from the post unit assessments, and the data that you've gathered throughout each one of those units, how did he perform on phonetic regular words versus irregular words?

Kelly Teclesenbet  36:03

Okay, so I don't have his his workbooks with me. Those are at school so I don't have, I'm basing my information also off of the goals. So I don't have that in front of me I'm sorry.

Family Friend #1    36:17

That data is very important to this discussion. My other question is, what was his progress like during each one of these units?

Kelly Teclesenbet  36:30

So at the beginning of each unit, where they did the pre-assessment, his score was lower and over the time after being taught then his score would increase at the end of unit assessment. It varied on each unit, some units were more challenging than others, um, and also, you know, depending on, um, what he was learning that can also impact, um, you know, if it was a harder area for him, his his final assessment score.

Family Friend #1    37:03

Okay, were there any units where he did not meet meet the publisher's standard of proficiency and the unit so we can isolate areas of need?

Kelly Teclesenbet  37:20

So I would really have to go back and look through his workbook to double check to the end of unit assessments.

Family Friend #1    37:28

So can we get a copy of his written responses of those workbooks, please, so that I could go over them with [parent], so we can have a conversation about this because I'm concerned here, and, Monique, I'm concerned that we're sitting here looking at ESY goals and this information has not been identified. I mean, we know that if a student is stuck in a unit, or is presenting with a slower pace, on specific areas of pattern that we're supposed to go into the Wilson work- Wilson reading system and pull from that. And if it still continues to be slow, we're supposed to switch into the Wilson reading system. Was a Wilson assessment of decoding and encoding ever administered to [student] at any point?

Karen Tuttle  38:19

Not that I'm aware of.

Family Friend #1    38:22

Why not? Would you be able to help me understand that?

Parent  38:27

[Family Friend #1], not to interrupt, but as background, it was requested he be placed on the Wilson program in our last IEP meeting in January where we did present information that Just Words was not appropriate. And, um, that it wasn't, the Just Words program was not giving, being given with fidelity.

Family Friend #1    38:53

Mm hmm. Monique, could you please let me know is um, and I'm sorry, I cannot remember the teacher's name, but- Are you trained, is she trained in Wilson?

Family Friend #2  39:07

It's it's Kelly. Right, Kelly?

Family Friend #1    39:09

Sorry about that. It's been a long day. Kelly, what are you trained in Wilson?

Kelly Teclesenbet  39:14

I'm trained in Just Words.

Family Friend #2  39:17

So you've not- Okay. So you've not been provided the Wilson training. Okay. Um, who trained you in Just Words?

Kelly Teclesenbet  39:24

It was last summer. Um, I'd have to look up the person's name. It was through Fairfax-

Karen Tuttle  39:31

It was within the county. Dottie, did you want to talk about Wilson?

Dottie Scrincosky  39:35

Yeah, I just wanted to add a point, um. We don't have Wilson in use in the cur- in Fairfax County at this time, so our teachers aren't trained in it. Um, we bring in -

Family Friend #1    39:46

Why not?

Dottie Scrincosky  39:48

I don't have an answer for -

Family Friend #1    39:50

Why -

Dottie Scrincosky  39:51

We don't have it right now.

Monique Blunder  40:48

Oh, this is Monique. I think we are here to really discuss ESY and his qualification of that. We have determined that he does, that he is a student that meets criteria for ESY and not about who's trained and what. So we're going to -

Family Friend #1    41:02

Well, I think it's important Monique, because if he's going to go on to ESY, we'd like to have continuity in his programming. So to lessen any confusion or to him have to go back and learn a whole new type of publisher rules, and the way that information is presented, I'm sure you can remember way back when there was discussion about this, about students that start one program and then ESY gives them a different program, and then they start in the fall and they do another program. And we all know, as Dottie can probably speak to, if she remembers, each of the programs has different ways of attacking these skills with different rules and different visuals. It can be very confusing. So all's I'm trying to do is to make sure that [Student] receives an evidence based program with fidelity that will meet his needs and his specific subtype of Dyslexia. That's all I'm trying to do here. So it's not a waste of his time because it's very valuable.

Monique Blunder  41:59

Okay, okay.

Dottie Scrincosky  42:02

Yes, I can endorse that Kelly was trained by a certified Wilson train-, excuse me, Just Words trainer. Kelly, you said it was either last year or the year before and we hire out that trainer from Fairfax- from outside of Fairfax to come in deliver that training to our teachers. It is a two day training.

Family Friend #1    42:23

Thank you Dottie. Can you please let me know is Wilson Just Words confirmed to be, ah, an evidence-based program for students with Dyslexia?

Dottie Scrincosky  42:31

According to, according to Wilson, the publisher, they have, um, not endorsed it. They have gone to endorsing Wilson Language.

Family Friend #1    42:44


Monique Blunder  42:48

I don't think that this conversation is helpful right now. Right now we-

Family Friend #1    42:55

Monique, with all due respect, I feel that it is because we need to figure out here what is the best plan you know for ESY for [Student]. And if he has Dyslexia, and he's been utilizing Just Words, we need to go back and look at what is going on here because discussion was centered and concerns were centered around progress. Okay? And he's only at unit seven, and that's concerning for me. And his teacher is unable to identify, or even have the data at the table today to discuss the areas of weakness that he's presenting and specific patterns within those units and which units took him longer. I'm sure, Dottie, you can, you'll know that each one of those units are structured and then you can glean a lot of information from that performance and it's not here today.

Dottie Scrincosky  43:41

I'm not denying that, [Family Friend #1] at all. What I mean if if there is a need for [Student] to go into, um, you know, a more intense tier of instruction, um you know, we can have that conversation. The team's here.

Karen Tuttle  43:58

Thank you. Kristina?

Kristina Roman  43:59

I think [Family Friend #2] hand was up before mine, so I'm happy to let her talk first. I just, the only thing I was just gonna say is that is, um, the parent had requested we not continue with Just Words. I'm a little confused as to, um, proceeding with that programming moving.

Family Friend #1    44:18

Well, I'm concerned that Wilson is not available from the county and no one has been able to answer why Wilson Language is not available.

Karen Tuttle  44:29

[Family Friend #2]?

Family Friend #2  44:31

Thank you. I'm, I'm concerned that we're having this conversation without the data being available. I understand that the books are- the booklets for Just Words are still in the school. I'm confused as to why nobody has obtained those booklets, because, um, I know parents have gone in- I myself  was going into the school. I've been in two or three times since COVID, and very early on. So I know that if there's something that is needed, that you can go and get it. So I'm concerned that nobody thought to pull those books to get the data so that we could write goals that are based on the most recent data. And then the other thing is, can we get those, which [Family Friend #1] already asked, and then also, to your point, Kristina, are you guys now saying that, even though [Parent] said this back in January, she said that Just Words wasn't appropriate, that you find that it's not appropriate and that you are going to put him on a different program?

Kristina Roman  45:40

We wanted to honor that request and consider that although we believe that the data we have says that Just Words program was targeting the identified needs in his IEP. That, um, yes, we were prepared to consider other programs to use.

Family Friend #2  45:55

Even though, even just Dottie said a few minutes ago that Just Words is not endorsed as a program for Dyslexia.

Kristina Roman  46:04

That's why we're looking at other programs.

Dottie Scrincosky  46:09

Endorsed by the Wilson language publisher. Yes. Even though even though Dyslexia occurs on a continuum from mild to moderate to severe, they do not endorse it for students with Dyslexia, with that diagnosis. And that's why I said, you know, maybe it is time for us to have that conversation about what else might be available.

Family Friend #1    46:34

And when-

Monique Blunder  46:35

I think we can also ascertain those books and that that data, I think, today, if we can make, you know, good use of the time, we've had some good conversation, I appreciate the conversation. If we can outline the services, then we can start getting into the dates, um, so that we can at least begin to talk about what programming and what that will look like.

Family Friend #1    47:00

I'm just concerned that you want to move forward and look at programming when we haven't really isolated what his needs are and we don't have the data from the teacher.

Monique Blunder  47:10

You need ... [inaudible] The needs will come from the current area needs that are identified in this IEP. So we can-

Family Friend #1    47:17

Let me -

Monique Blunder  47:18

If we're talking about maintenance of skills and area of need would be looking at those goals. So we would like to go back, I can certainly, um, um, share the goals and we can look at each area go each area to identify.

Family Friend #1    47:33

Yep, because I am concerned that what I'm hearing here, what I just heard from the person that spoke before you, I think was that what the focus has been was just what the isolated needs that were identified in the IEP as to what was identified throughout the implementation of Just Words from that data. And so that's, that is concerning to me because, Monique, if he was struggling, in the Just Words, specific areas that were not identified in his IEP, where are we at right now? Do you see what I'm saying? Like, how are we going to move forward? He's just going to go ahead to ESY with other areas that haven't been identified or an understanding as to what would be good programming for him. Has anyone considered- Dottie, what are you recommending as far as programming? If you don't have Wilson reading system available? What else is available?

Karen Tuttle  48:32

Well, Dottie, before you speak, [Parent] has had her hand up for a bit. [Parent]?

Parent  48:41

No, I'm perfectly fine with- Go ahead and answer [Family Friend #1]'s question because from my understanding the data is what drives the goal for this ESY and the data I have, the data I have received from Mrs. T over the time period shows that he is not making progress on the Just Words. That's why it was asked for in the January meeting to have a program that has been identified for Dyslexia and will be given with fidelity and that's just not happening. So we're putting the cart before the horse.

Karen Tuttle  49:25

Okay. Thank you. Dottie, go ahead.

Dottie Scrincosky  49:29

Okay, our current tier three programs in Fairfax County for students who have needs comprehensive needs including Dyslexia, or language exclamation, or as they get older, we have Language Live another version written by Louisa Moats, who is an expert, researcher, educator, psychologist on, um, Dyslexia, um and we are also building up our core of teachers and getting trained in Orton Gillingham approach. Um, that is that that training is being done solely by our Dyslexia specialists. So, it's happening slowly. We're a big county, but you know, we are getting teachers trained so that they can deliver that.

Family Friend #1    50:21

My concern again, is the confusion because I hear what you're saying about the programming from Louisa Moats. But as we know, the way the structure of the words are presented to the student is different than the way they are presented with the Wilson programming. Although both Orton Gillingham-based they have different ways of going about that presentation.

Dottie Scrincosky  50:44

I agree. I agree.

Family Friend #1    50:46

And so I'm concerned that that's going to be confusing for [Student] and he's going to be starting over from square one.

Dottie Scrincosky  50:52

So to clarify, you're saying the difference is between like the Language or Language Live programs versus the Wilson based, which are very similar to a lot of the OG programs out there.

Family Friend #1    51:04

Well, I think Wilson is the most comparable but not as not so much with the Language and the Language Live, especially the Language Live.

Dottie Scrincosky  51:12

Okay. Okay. Fair point. Fair point.

Family Friend #1    51:14


Dottie Scrincosky  51:15

But we do we are training up teachers as quickly as we can, of course, COVID interrupted the flow. Um, I have made, you know, requests that we try to get more people to be trained in this so that we could- I mean- We're- How are we going to train all these teachers in Fairfax, you know, at the rate that we need it? We need to build that capacity. Some teachers are going to struggle even with Orton Gillingham, because it does require teachers to be very prescriptive and, well diagnostic first and then prescriptive in how they tailor their lessons. Karen, did you know do you have anybody who attended recent trainings with Carrie Leestma?

Karen Tuttle  51:59

Yes, I do. I have teachers that have attended



Dottie Scrincosky  52:04


Monique Blunder  52:08

We still need to look at the area of needs that we're going to select and that additional information in conversation I feel like certainly could occur after we identify - and I understand [Family Friend #1], um, that you're concerned with the programming, but we still need to talk about which area of needs, which goals, and what service time.

Family Friend #1    52:29

Right, it's not just an in and a concern what programming, Monique, so I just want to clarify that. It's a concern with the ??? of [Student]'s needs and his identified subtype of Dyslexia and needs matching again with the programming. So I understand that you have deference, but I would like the team to be respectful of what his needs are, and not what is available. Okay? So that would be important.

Monique Blunder  52:58

Yes, thank you. I would agree with that.

Family Friend #1    53:00

Thank you.

Monique Blunder  53:01


Parent  53:03

Well, again, I'm also questioning the fact that if we don't have the data in front of us to look at how are we doing this? I mean, beyond even what program, we don't have anything to look at to decide what to do.

Monique Blunder  53:25

Well instructional method would not be a part of this IEP. You know, it's not the instructional method that we're looking at. We're looking at what- Does he require ESY? We've answered yes to that. And the goals that we're going to look at maintaining, maintaining will be the area of needs that are currently in this IEP. So while I do appreciate all the information that you're sharing and we're looking at [Student] in know, in terms of what he requires, and we certainly might be looking at changing program, that's what it sounds like. We still need to identify these, some of these preliminary, um components. So we could just look at the area of need, we can look at the decoding the encoding word as well as the writing we could bring those area of needs over, because ESY is about maintenance and we also want to talk about compensatory services and finish that conversation.

Karen Tuttle  54:33

Okay, so it sounds like we're gonna look at the different areas and go forward.

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