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I have followed, with interest, the discussions in the newspaper pertaining to children with learning disabilities. It occurs to me that when nonprofessionals observe the work of a competent teacher, they are not aware of the level of skill and knowledge required to do the job.

A good teacher never writes off a child who is not learning as a failure. There has been a great deal of study and research of the learning process. We know that children learn in many different ways, and that teaching methods and techniques must be prescribed with specificity in order to meet a child's needs.

In Port Washington, when children fail to learn, a teacher relies on his/her knowledge of current research and theory. Observation and assessment tools are used to diagnose problem areas. Child Study Teams, consisting of teachers, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and reading specialists, convene to further examine the learning dynamics. If needed, further testing and evaluation is done, and the Committee of Special Education meets to develop an Individualized Education Plan to satisfy the child's needs and enhance learning. The child's parents are involved and informed at every level of this process. Additional support and information for parents is available from our very knowledgeable SEPTA membership.

There is not an increase in the number of children with learning disabilities. Instead, there is more research, more information and a greater knowledge base from which teachers are able to assess and evaluate learning.

The public is thankful for this kind of progress in science, medicine and technology. We should also be thankful for the scientific, research-based progress in the field of education. Early and accurate detection of learning disabilities, followed by appropriate intervention, enables us to provide all children with the best education, and optimum learning.

Jane Tafarella




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