Missouri’s DESE Announces “MO Read, Lead, Exceed Initiative” for Literacy based on Science of Reading

Based upon nearly a decade of legislation supported by Decoding Dyslexia MO and other concerned parents and advocates across the state, Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has finally announced a literacy plan based upon the Science of Reading. The “Missouri Read, Lead, Exceed” initiative will dedicate nearly $25 million in state funding and $35 million in federal relief funds to support student literacy.

A large portion of the funding will be used to train teachers in the LETRS training through various Regional Professional Development Centers (RPDCs). Developed by renowned literacy experts Dr. Louisa Moats and Dr. Carol Tolman, LETRS earned the International Dyslexia Association’s Accreditation and provides teachers with the skills they need to master the fundamentals of reading instruction—phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, and language.

The Department further defines literacy in the new initiative to include this statement: “The Department aligns itself with the evidence-based research of the science of reading. The Department’s priority is having all literacy initiatives, birth through grade 12, be grounded in evidence-based best practices and ensuring Missouri educators are provided with support and resources that uphold this scientific understanding of reading and literacy development”

Additionally: “Past literacy methods have promoted a philosophy of reading that minimized or omitted direct, systematic, and sequential teaching of language structure. Phonics instruction, which focuses on the relationship between individual letters and sounds, was de-emphasized in the past based on the belief that students would naturally learn to read by recognizing words as whole pieces. As understanding of the science of reading evolves, so must practice. Based onMissouri’s student performance data, educators cannot afford to occupy the middle ground. More must be done to ensure literacy growth for all students. When all stakeholders commit to using the science of reading to guide the work, Missouri’s students will be provided the instruction needed to reach reading proficiency targets.”

We hope all districts across the state will embrace this new emphasis on the Science of Reading and acknowledge the benefits that structured literacy (as described above) will play in the development of literacy for all Missouri students.

Read more about the “Missouri Read, Lead, Exceed” program on the DESE website here: https://dese.mo.gov/media/pdf/steps-success-step-1. You can find out more about the LETRS program here: https://louisamoats.wordpress.com/publications-2/.

HB1556 Hearing Set for Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022

HB1556 “The Reading Success Bill” sponsored by Rep. David Gregory will be heard in the House Hearing Room 7 on Tuesday, February 15 at 8 am.  This legislation would positively influence all children struggling with reading in public schools.  We need your help to let the Committee know how important appropriate reading intervention is for struggling readers in MO public schools.  Take a moment to review the full text of this bill by clicking on the bill number (highlighted in blue) above, then let the Committee members know how crucial appropriate evidenced-based reading instruction is for dyslexic children.  Here are the ways you can help:

1.)  Submit written testimony for the hearing via this form on the House website. 2.)  Contacting the Members of the House Education Committee (see contact information and talking points below) to ask them for their support of HB368
3.)  Attend the hearing and give testimony in person.   

For “talking points”, Committee contact links, and additional information please click here.

We hope to see you on Tuesday!

Dyslexia is Real!

Does your student feel different or alone facing the challenge of reading in the classroom? They are not alone! 1 in 5 Missouri students faces the same struggles with reading due to dyslexia everyday in Missouri. They also have some really great talents, too. Let’s celebrate the strengths! Together we can help them become the “Superhero” of their own story.

Legislative Alert: Senate “Reading Success” Bill Hearing Set for Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Missouri Senate “Reading Success” bill (SB681) has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee next Tuesday, January 25, 2022.

Senate Bill (SB681) “The Reading Success Bill” sponsored by Sen. O’Laughlin will be heard at 12:00pm in the Senate Lounge.

Take a moment to review the summary of this bill by clicking on the bill number (highlighted in blue) above or the full bill text here.  Then let the Committee Members know how crucial appropriate evidenced-based reading instruction is for dyslexic children. This legislation would positively influence all children struggling with reading proficiency in public schools.

We cannot over-emphasize how important your calls/emails will be in the forward movement of this bill and future passage!

Please let the Committee members know that this bill really matters to families in MO! Please contact the following members of the Senate Education Committee by phone or email to respectfully request their support. Personal examples of your child’s struggles and when he or she has succeeded with the right kind of help will make your story, letter or email more compelling. (See sample letter below for ideas.)

Senate Education Committee Members:

Senator Cindy O’Laughlin (Committee Chair/Bill Sponsor) (573) 751-7985 email (to thank her for sponsoring the bill) here

Senator Rick Brattin (Committee Vice Chair) email here

Senator Lauren Arthur (573) 751-5282 email here

Senator Mike Cierpiot (573) 751-1464 email here

Senator Elaine Gannon (573) 751-4008 email here

Senator Andrew Koenig (573) 751-5568 email here

Senator Greg Razer (573) 751-6607 email here

Senator Bob Onder (573) 751-1282 email here

Senator Jill Schupp (573) 751-9762 email here

*Please note that the above Senate email links will display a disclaimer. Please click on “Continue to the contact page” to submit your email message.

Contact us at info@decodingdyslexia-mo.org with any questions regarding the bill.

Please take a moment today to show your support for appropriate reading interventions for students with dyslexia! ____________________________________________________________________________

Sample letter:

Dear __________,

I am writing today to ask for your support of Senate Bill 681 (SB681) that will be heard in your Education Committee on Tuesday, January 25, 2022. This bill will require schools to adopt an appropriate intervention program that is evidenced based to help children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

My child has struggled…(include a short personal story).

That is why I feel that not only my child but every child who struggles with reading and dyslexia would benefit from the passage of Senate Bill 54 (SB54). I respectfully ask for your support of this bill!

Sincerely, ____________________________________________________________________________

House “Reading Success” Bill (HB2470) March 17 Hearing Cancelled Due to CoVID-19 Restrictions at State Capitol

The MO State Capitol has now been put on a restriction of “essential personnel” only due to the CoVID-19 prevention concerns, and the March 17 House Education Committee public hearing for HB2470 has been cancelled.

We will update everyone on any rescheduling information or ways to submit testimony as they are communicated.

In the meantime, please support this important bill by contacting the House Education Committee members and asking for their support of structured literacy.   A bill summary can be found here.  Full details of HB2470 can be found here.

Take a moment to review the full text of this bill and read our “Talking Points”.  Then let the Committee Members know how crucial appropriate evidenced-based reading instruction is for dyslexic children.   This legislation would positively influence all children struggling with literacy in public schools.

We cannot over-emphasize how important your calls/emails will be in the forward movement of this bill and future passage!

Let’s show our Legislators that this bill really matters to families in MO!   Please contact the following members of the House Education Committee by phone or email to respectfully request them for their support.  Personal examples of your child’s struggles and when he or she has succeeded with the right kind of help will make your story, letter or email more compelling.  (See sample letter below for ideas.)

House Education Committee Members:

Rep Chuck Basye (Committee Chairman)  (573) 751-1501  email here
Rep. Dottie Bailey (Committee Vice-Chair)  (573) 751-0562   email here
Rep. Judy Morgan  (573) 751-4485  email here
Rep. Ben Baker (573) 751-9781  email here
Rep. Gretchen Bangert (573) 751-5365  email here
Rep. Paula Brown (573) 751-4163  email here
Rep. Phil Christofanelli  (573) 751-2949   email here
Rep. Shamed Dogan (573) 751-4392  email here
Rep. Karla Eslinger (573) 751-2042  email here
Rep. Michael O’Donnell  (573) 751-3762   email here
Rep. Raychel Proudie (573) 751-0855  email here
Rep. Nick Schroer  (573) 751-1470  email here
Rep. Dan Stacy  (573) 751-8636   email here
Rep. Kathryn Swan  (573) 751-1443   email here

Contact us here with any questions regarding these bills.

Please take a moment today to show your support for appropriate reading interventions for students with dyslexia!

Sample letter:

Dear  __________,

I am writing today to ask for your support of (insert bill number here__________) that has been referred to your Education Committee and was scheduled to be heard on March 17.  This bill will require schools to adopt a structured literacy intervention program that is evidenced based to help children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

My child has struggled…(include a short personal story).

That is why I feel that not only my child but every child who struggles with dyslexia would benefit from the passage of HB2470.  I respectfully ask for your support of this bill!


Become a Dyslexia Awareness Advocate!

Organizations across the country are promoting dyslexia awareness.  We invite you to check out the many ways to get involved and promote awareness.  The perfect place to start?  Join the Decoding Dyslexia-MO movement, of course!  Scroll down to find more ways to get involved.
Join The Decoding Dyslexia-MO Movement
Are you passionate about raising dyslexia awareness and empowering families to support their children with dyslexia?  Would you like to help inform policy-makers on the state of dyslexia in MO schools?  Then we need you as a member!

Becoming a member is simple.  There are no dues or fees and any level of participation is valued.  Perhaps you want to volunteer your time and talent.  Or you simply want to receive legislative alerts.  A key to Decoding Dyslexia’s success across the country has been the willingness of individuals such as yourself to share their story and knowledge with other parents and educators in their day to day life.

Please fill out our contact form (to the right of this post) to sign up as a member and join our email list.  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and join our Decoding Dyslexia MO Group page on Facebook.  We would love to hear from you!  DDMO is a completely free, volunteer organization with no fees for membership.

 Start A Conversation About Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities 

Ever find yourself at a loss for words when trying to explain to others what it really means when you say, “My child has a learning disability”? What do you say to your own parents for whom the concept of dyslexia or learning disabilities might not be familiar? How about coaches? If you have other children without LD or related issues, how do you talk to them?

The National Center For Learning Disabilities (www.ncld.org) developed resources to ensure that every stakeholder knows the important role they can play in helping students develop essential self-advocacy skills and the capacity for self-determination. Here are some of the activities each stakeholder can engage in to make a difference:

Self Advocacy Skills and Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities

 Share Your Story

Someone out there needs you.  Whether you’re “The One” with dyslexia or you’re “Helping The One” with dyslexia, your voice is powerful.  Learning Ally has created a website, www.explore1in5.org, dedicated helping the estimated 60 million people dealing with dyslexia.

If you’re ‘the one’ in 1in5, tell your story at Being the One.

If you’re part of a dyslexic’s support system – Mom, Dad, family, and friends – tell your story at Helping the One.

Register for DDMO/MPACT Conference Now!


Join us Friday, May 3, 2019,  for a conference entitled “How to Improve Word-Level Reading in Students with Dyslexia” featuring David Kilpatrick, PhD and presented by Decoding Dyslexia MO in conjunction with MPACT Missouri Parents ACT.

Implementation of the new Missouri state dyslexia law began this school year and additional legislation focused on evidence-based reading interventions has been filed in the legislature. To support teachers, parents and other professionals in understanding dyslexia and other reading disabilities, David Kilpatrick, Ph.D. will present in St. Louis, Missouri on May 3. David’s book, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties, is used by DESE and the RPDC Dyslexia Consultants as a source of information and study.

The presentation will focus on how children learn to read words and why some children struggle. Understanding the nature of word-level reading development and word-level reading problems will guide both assessment and intervention. Studies consistently show that the most commonly used intervention approaches provide limited benefits for weak readers. However, other studies have shown that some approaches can yield very large reading gains for such students. Once we understand how reading works and why some students struggle, the reasons for this pattern of intervention findings become clear. The focus is on establishing the best instructional and intervention practices.

More about David Kilpatrick, PhD https://equippedforreadingsuccess.com/about-the-author/

**Thanks to DD-MO and MPACT donors we are able to provide this conference for a discounted rate.**

Register Today!

Included in registration: Light Breakfast, Lunch and Refreshments

Parent Registration = $75
Early Bird Professional Registration = $85
Professional After April 3, 2019= $100
REFUNDS: No refunds. Tickets are transferrable.
CEU’s pending

Discounted room blocks available at Holiday Inn available until 4/11/2019.
Exhibitor tables limited- $100 (lunch and seminar included)

Visit this link to book the $94 rate for Decoding Dyslexia and MPACT. The room code is APM.

Contact Amey McAllister at amcallister@missouriparentsact.org for more information.


MO Dyslexia Law and Dyslexia Task Force Recommendations

MO Dyslexia Law Addresses Screening, Classroom Support, Teacher Training, & Establishes the Dyslexia Task Force.  Task Force issues guidance in October of 2017.  DDMO helps secure funding for Dyslexia Specialist and Dyslexia Professional Development

Thanks to the hard work of our members, Decoding Dyslexia-MO was successful in getting a screening, professional development, and accommodations bill passed.  Governor Nixon signed House Bill 2379 and Senate Bill 638 on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 2pm in Springfield at the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC) Head Start location.

This act requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop guidelines for the appropriate screening of students for dyslexia and related disorders and to develop the necessary *classroom support for such students by December 31, 2017.  Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, each public school including charter schools, shall conduct dyslexia screenings and provide reasonable classroom support consistent with the guidelines developed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Additionally, practicing teacher assistance programs shall include two hours of in-service training regarding dyslexia and related disorder provided by each school district for all practicing teachers.  Such training shall count as two contact hours of professional development.


This act also created the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia.  The Task Force was required to advise and make recommendations to the Governor, Joint Committee on Education, and relevant state agencies.  The Task Force consisted of twenty members, as described in the act.   The Task Force published their recommendations for a statewide system for identification, intervention, and delivery of supports for students with dyslexia.  The Task Force recommendations were published in October of 2017: Task Force Recommendations.

In addition to working on this bill, DDMO members secured funding in the legislature for the Dyslexia Specialist position in the MO Dept. of Education.  Kim Stuckey was hired as MO’s Dyslexia Specialist and she has established several initiatives in her position including professional development programs and a dyslexia webpage on the MO Dept. of Education’s website (MO Dept. of Ed Dyslexia webpage).  DDMO also worked with the legislature and the Governor’s office to secure $250,000 for dyslexia professional development in MO.  A large portion of this money is being allocated to dyslexia training programs at the Regional Professional Development Centers through the State.

And NOW we are working on a bill that would create a “Reading Success Plan” (SB349) for any child reading below grade level.  The “Reading Success Plan” would require intensive instruction in methods approved by the National Reading Panel and the International Dyslexia Association.

These are tremendous steps forward for public school students in MO!

*support is defined as “low-cost and effective best practices, such as oral examinations and extended test-taking periods, used to support students who have dyslexia or any related disorder”.

Enjoy the Step Up For Dyslexia 2017 Video

Thanks to everyone that joined us in 2017 for Step Up For Dyslexia.  Please enjoy this video with highlights from the day.  Be sure to mark your calendars for Sept 30, 2018 because we will be hosting Step Up For Dyslexia at Queeny Park again!  Please get in touch with us if you would like to help plan next year’s event or if you would like to bring Step Up For Dyslexia to your city.  You can reach us at info@decodingdyslexia-mo.org.

We already have plans underway to host an educational event this spring  that will help prepare parents and educators to be ready for the screening requirements that will roll out in fall of 2018.  Funds raised at Step Up For Dyslexia will be used to help keep this event affordable.  Stay tuned to our site for more detail.

Eyecandy Imaging is the official photographer of Step Up For Dyslexia.  You can view and order pictures:  Step Up For Dyslexia Pictures (enter YOUR email address and the password stepup2017)