Educational Tutoring Program

Helen Wallace wants to fill a void in our educational system that is detrimentally affecting the entire community. By implementing an educational tutoring program through Juvenile Court for bright but struggling students, Helen Wallace knows that a huge positive impact can be made in our society. Struggling in school often leads to delinquency, and later turns a child into an adult who is not reaching their full potential. Most learning differences are just that differences – not disabilities. All children are simply different and not all can adapt and learn from the one-size-fits-all curriculum used by many schools. That does not mean these children cannot learn or contribute to society. Quite the opposite – these children are often society’s innovators and movers and shakers.

Dyslexia is the most common of all the language based learning differences, conservatively affecting 15-20% of the population worldwide. 70-80% of the people with poor reading skills are likely dyslexic. Dyslexia is a genetic language processing difference that often makes reading, writing and spelling difficult despite average to superior intelligence. Dyslexia affects children and adults all of their lives. Research shows that children can be identified as early as kindergarten. Early identification and intervention of learning differences is essential for educational success. Conservatively, one in every five children in every classroom is dyslexic, yet it is rarely diagnosed or adequately addressed. Most dyslexic children are not identified until ages 9 to 14, if at all according to the U.S. Department of Education. Helen Wallace understands that the “wait to fail approach” must end. We know what it is, we know how to diagnose it and we know how to treat it. It is high time we did and our community will only benefit from it, beginning with a reduction in juvenile delinquency.  

Whether measured in tax dollars or waste of human potential, the public cost of learning disabilities like dyslexia is enormous. According to a multi-source statistical brief by the Learning Disabilities Association of America:

  • 2.25 million students are placed in special education classes for learning disabilities.

  • 35% of students with learning disabilities drop out of high school – twice the rate of their non-learning-disabled peers.

  • 60% of adults with severe literacy problems have undetected or untreated learning disabilities.

Of students who display reading problems in the first grade, 74% will be poor readers in the ninth grade and in adulthood unless they receive appropriate intervention, according to an authoritative report by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (a part of the National Institutes of Health).

The NIH report finds that reading difficulties are the most commonly shared characteristic of juvenile justice offenders and the leading cause of school dropouts in the United States.

The overall cost to society is staggering. Recent research indicates that un-remediated dyslexia is associated with dysfunction in adult life as much as in the classroom. Poor self-esteem in many people is aggravated by low educational achievement and poor employment prospects. As the NIH further reports:

  • 62% of students with learning disabilities are unemployed one year after high school graduation.

  • 31% of teenagers with learning disabilities are arrested 3 to 5 years out of high school.

  • Learning disabilities and substance abuse are the most common impediments keeping public-assistance clients from becoming and remaining employed.

Even though dyslexia is a lifelong condition that should be treated early, the devastating effects can typically be offset within 18 to 36 months of identification, regardless of the student's age.  

Successful treatment for dyslexia involves a structured, sequential program using a multi-sensory, phonetic educational program based on the treatment approach summarized below. With appropriate treatment, students show great gains in reading skills over a relatively short period of time. Records show many cases of 2-3 years' gain in reading level after less than a year of remediation and the gains in self-esteem and self-worth are just as strong.  

Dyslexics are bright people. Alexander Graham Bell, Richard Branson, Picasso, Thomas Edison, Pierre Curie, Leonardo DiVinci, and Ansel Adams are just some examples of dyslexics who contributed so much to society not despite their dyslexia but because of it. The potential that is not realized because dyslexic children fall through the cracks of our system is tragic and senseless. Education is the key. Adults must be trained to use the appropriate approach when teaching dyslexics to read. Informed expert instruction makes all the difference – to the life of the dyslexic child, their family (who often do not know about dyslexia or why their child is struggling) and our community.   

The Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach, is a proven evidence-based method of remedial instruction. It is scientific, highly structured and systematic. Students receive intensive instruction using intentional multi-sensory reinforcement, employing the visual, auditory, and tactile-kinesthetic pathways simultaneously. For children OG taught lessons can be quite lively because it incorporates these elements dynamically, reinforcing each other for optimal learning. For teachers, OG training is an intensive study of the English language as well as the mechanisms involved in learning and the language learning processes in individuals.

With professional certification, teachers can apply the OG approach in working with children in the wider community, especially in their own public-school classrooms. Free professional certification is available to individuals who meet the criteria in Dayton.

Many schools are not currently providing the specialized, labor intensive OG tutoring that allows academically at-risk children to gain mastery over a significant learning disorder in an encouraging environment. Additionally, for-profit tutoring corporations do not employ the proven method of OG tutoring to teach dyslexic children and are cost-prohibitive for many families. It is a significant problem with costly outcomes. Helen would like to address this issue through a program in the Juvenile Court (funded through grants) and is convinced that our community will reap the benefits of educating these bright children in many ways, including seeing less juvenile delinquency.

Sources (as given in LDA Newsbrief, Learning Disabilities Association, Nov.-Dec. 2000):

  1. US Department of Education 1992

  2. National Longitudinal Transition Study 1991

  3. National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center 1994

  4. National Institutes of Health 1994

  5. Office of the Inspector General 1992 / US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration