As educators, we have all heard of curriculum fidelity. But did you realize that curriculum fidelity is so much more than just the instructional group size in a dyslexia curriculum? Let’s explore to discover more.
Any dyslexia curriculum is either research-based or evidence-based, or both. A research-based curriculum means that it is consistent with research on how children develop and learn. Within a dyslexia curriculum, specifically, it promotes interactions, teaching practices, and learning experiences that research has shown to be effective in supporting children’s learning and development. Evidence-based means the research is based on the principle that education practices are based on the best available scientific evidence. Often, there is less reliance on intangible aspects like tradition, personal judgment, or other influences. Most dyslexia curricula are evidence-based. Some could be both research and evidence-based, like MTA.
Because many dyslexia curricula are evidence-based, they often have commonalities that hold true for curriculum fidelity. Such areas could include:
- Minutes per week
- Class size
- Training of teacher
- Appropriate student grouping
Most dyslexia curricula make it clear that if these standards are not upheld, the expected progress can not be ensured through the dyslexia curriculum.
Minutes, Class Size/Grouping, and Teacher Training
Though every dyslexia curriculum differs, most have the standard that classes should meet four times a week, for 60 minutes a session, or five times a week for 45 minutes a session. If the student grouping is not appropriate (either inappropriate by grade level, personalities in the group, or previous student knowledge), or the class size is greater than 6-8 students, it could hinder how effectively the teacher is able to move the group through the dyslexia curriculum in the expected time allotment.
In order to ensure that the evidence will promote student growth, these areas should be followed and strictly adhered to all aspects of the school district dyslexia programming for future student success.
Additionally, most dyslexia curricula training requires the instructor to attend rigorous, hands-on training. This training not only instructs in the dyslexia curriculum but in additional areas such as the state handbook, laws regarding dyslexia, components of effective instruction, and identifying pathways for students. Effective instructor training should not be conducted for a few days. Depending on the certificate level, dyslexia training can be five to ten days for teacher training, and up to one to two years for practitioner, therapist, or fellows level training. Effective student instruction can be reduced if the teacher is not thoroughly trained by another expert in the field.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Bottom line: Fidelity in every dyslexia curriculum varies somewhat. Dyslexia curricula are rooted in evidence-based practices. Consistent components typically include guidance with timing, class size, grouping appropriateness, and teacher training. In order to ensure that the evidence will promote student growth, these areas should be followed and strictly adhered to all aspects of the school district dyslexia programming for future student success. Remember, we are not doing what’s best for us, but what is best for the student.