Lawmakers Observe Scranton Elementary School’s Learning Program Benefiting Dyslexic Students

SCRANTON (KFSM)—A new program at Scranton Elementary is helping better serve students with dyslexia, and lawmakers are taking note.

“You can see the results,” said Congressman Bruce Westerman. “You can’t watch this and deny that these kids aren't getting great instruction.”

Scranton Elementary School is using the so-called “Science of Reading” program, which identifies dyslexic students early and gives them the specialized learning tools they need to succeed.

Jamie Siebenmorgen has been a teacher for almost 30 years. She had hands-on training for the program last year, following the passage of the Arkansas Dyslexia Law, which requires school districts to screen students for the learning disability.

“I have four students whom I work with now one on one,” Siebenmorgen said. “There will be many more.”

When Siebenmorgen first started working with second-grader Shawn Seaman, he was reading 17 words per minute. Now he is reading 52 words per minute.

“I started with him in August, and we’re within 57 lessons now and he really really has improved,” she said.

The program meets the standards of the Arkansas Department of Education’s launch of the RISE (Reading Initiative for Student Excellence) in literacy campaign.

“We don't tell districts what they must use, but what we encourage them to do is look for programs like this that embed that science of reading to really meet the needs of [dyslexic] students,” said Johnny Key, Arkansas education commissioner.

Through the Science of Reading, students diagnosed with dyslexia learn why words are spelled and pronounced the way they are, and it utilizes as many senses as possible.

“There's a lot of touching,. a lot of building, a lot of me having them echo what I say,” Siebenmorgen said.

The Arkansas Department of Education is working to train 1,000 more teachers this summer about the Science of Reading.