Dyslexia Resources for Schools: Screener Reimbursement Project & Free Dyslexia Awareness Kit

Dr. Sally Shaywitz states in Overcoming Dyslexia, “The human brain is resilient, but there is no question that early intervention and treatment bring about more positive change at a faster pace than an intervention provided to an older child. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the quicker your child can get help, and the more likely you are to prevent secondary blows to her self-esteem.”

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. A secondary consequence may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

In 2016 the Maine Dyslexia Screening Statute went into effect. In this statute it is stated that each school administrative unit shall screen for dyslexia all students from kindergarten to grade 2 who are identified as having difficulty in phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, sound-symbol relationships (phonics), alphabet knowledge, decoding, rapid naming or encoding. If a student in kindergarten through grade 2 has a weakness in any one of these areas the student screening must include an examination of the student’s:

  1. Phonological and phonemic awareness
  2. Sound-symbol recognition
  3. Alphabet knowledge
  4. Decoding skills
  5. Rapid naming skills and
  6. Encoding skills

To support the work of early screening and early intervention the Maine Department of Education Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education is pleased to announce a second year of the Maine Dyslexia Screening Project. This project is designed to support schools in a one-time reimbursement opportunity of up to $4,500 towards a high-quality screener for the 2023-2024 school year. For more information about the evidence needed for reimbursement and the video overview please visit the 2023-2024 screening page here.

If you have additional questions please contact Dee Saucier at danielle.m.saucier@maine.gov or Anne-Marie Adamson at anne-marie.adamson@maine.gov.

Sign Up for a Free Dyslexia Awareness Kit

As part of our expanded efforts to improve communication and deepen understanding about dyslexia screening and supporting struggling readers we are offering one free dyslexia awareness kit to each school in Maine. The kit includes a copy of Conquering Dyslexia: A Guide to Early Detection and Intervention for Teachers and Families by Dr. Jan Hasbrouck, IDA information sheets and informational articles and links.

To request a kit for your school please complete this request form. If you have additional questions, please contact Dee Saucier at danielle.m.saucier@maine.gov.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Filing of Targeted Revisions to Rule Chapter 101: Maine Unified Special Education Rule (MUSER)

Public Law 2023, Chapter 450 amends 20-A MRSA §7001, 7002, 7258, and 8305 to amend the upper age limit to under 22 years of age, changes hearing impairment to deafness, including hearing loss, changes serious emotional disturbance to emotional disability, and changes deafness and blindness to deaf-blindness. Public Law 2023, Chapter 450 also amends outdated language by changing the term pupil evaluation to individualized education program. These changes are now reflected in the revised MUSER.

With respect to the change initially made by emergency rule, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) determined that the funding structure previously outlined in Section XVIII.3.C(2) of MUSER for private schools that serve exclusively students with disabilities (“special purpose private schools”) was causing those schools to limit or cease operations, leaving some of Maine’s most significantly impacted children without the educational placements they are entitled to by law. Further breakdown of this critical component of the continuum of educational placements would leave the State unable to maintain compliance with IDEA and MUSER. This problem was initially resolved with the emergency rule filing of July 7, 2023. The Department seeks to make the change permanent in this rulemaking process.

This amendment makes those changes and no others.

As required by law, a period of public comment opens October 25, 2023 through November 27, 2023. Written comments may be submitted to Maine DOE Rulemaking Liaison Laura Cyr, State House Station #23, Augusta, Maine 04333; 207-446-8791 or laura.cyr@maine.gov until 5:00 pm November 27, 2023. For documentation purposes, written comments are preferred.

In addition, a public hearing for the revised Rule Chapter 101 will be held in person and virtually on November 17, 2023, from 3:00-5:00 pm at the Burton Cross Office Building, located at 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine 04333, Room 103. As space will be limited, participants are encouraged to attend virtually through Zoom, using this link:

Topic: Rule Chapter 101 Public Hearing
Time: November 17, 2023, 3:00 pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 823 5264 8387
Passcode: 56401141

Timeline for Rulemaking for Rule Chapter 101 – Major Substantive

  • File: October 17, 2023
  • Post: October 25, 2023
  • Comment Period End: November 27, 2023

The revised Rule Chapter 101 can be found here.

You may also submit comments to the following location: CH 101 Form

CONTACT PERSON FOR THIS FILING (include name, mailing address, telephone, fax, TTY, email):

Laura Cyr, laura.cyr@maine.gov, 446-8791


Maine DOE and Maine Association of School Psychologist to Host Presentation on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders on Oct 30

The Maine Department of Education and the Maine Association of School Psychologists (MASP) are co-hosting a presentation: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders with Christie L. M. Petrenko, Ph.D. on Monday, October 30, 2023, from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm at the Harraseeket Inn Freeport.

Christie Petrenko, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and researcher who has been working with people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) since 2003. She completed her graduate training with Edward Riley and Sarah Mattson in San Diego, CA and is currently a Research Associate Professor at Mt. Hope Family Center, University of Rochester in NY. Her research focuses on developing and evaluating interventions for people with FASD, including the use of mobile health technology to increase access to care. She has experience training teams of providers both regionally and internationally in FASD diagnosis. Dr. Petrenko also runs a multidisciplinary FASD clinic providing diagnostic, intervention, and family support services in Rochester, NY.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) represent one of the most common developmental disabilities worldwide. FASD are life-long conditions and affect 2-5% of the US population. Rates of FASD are even higher in special populations such as those served within child welfare, mental health, special education, and justice systems. Yet most professionals in these systems are not provided the necessary education and training to effectively serve people with FASD. Without access to knowledgeable providers, people with FASD experience considerable inequity and lower quality of life.

This accessible and interactive training offers attendees the essential knowledge and skills to begin to implement FASD-informed care with their clients. Attendees will learn the advantages of identifying FASD in their clients and implementing FASD-informed care principles and skills in their practice. Attendees will see how key skills such as “reframing” and “accommodations” can build on successful strategies they are already using with clients, and effectively tailor them to meet the strengths and needs of people with FASD. Given the high rates of FASD in special education and mental health settings, this will allow providers to promote healthcare equity and improve quality of life in their clients.

To register for the event go to Maine Association of School Psychologists – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (masponline.net)

For questions about the event contact maineasp@gmail.com.

2023/2024 Community of Practice for New Special Educators

Are you a new special education teacher in your first year or two of teaching? Beginning in September 2023, the Office of Special Services & Inclusive Education’s Special Educator Engagement, Development & Supports (SEEDS) project will host a community of practice for you!  Each session will be held virtually after school hours and will focus on the most relevant and meaningful topics for you as you start your career as an educator.  Topics will be decided by the community of practice and may include areas such as inclusion, co-teaching, collaboration, IEP writing, behavior supports, literacy and math interventions, etc.  The community of practice will also have an online platform to engage and support one another in between the monthly meetings.

To register for the New Special Educator Community of Practice, please fill out this survey.  The sessions for the 2023-2024 school year are from 3:30-4:45 pm on September 11, October 10, November 8, December 14, January 8, February 13, March 13, April 11, May 13, and June 11.

If you have any questions, please contact Tracy Whitlock at tracy.w.whitlock@maine.gov

What Really Works in Education 2023 Conference: High Leverage Practices & Collaboration for Inclusive Classrooms

Are you looking for strategies, tips, and practical techniques around high-leverage instructional practices and collaboration that work with diverse learners to create Inclusive Classrooms?  This conference is for you and your team!

For the first time ever, the popular What Really Works in Education conference is coming to Maine!  This year’s conference, hosted by the Maine Department of Education’s Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education, will engage learners around high-leverage practices by local, national, and international experts.

Participants will leave with tips, tricks, strategies, and tools to add to their educational toolkit from each session in the conference.

The one-day event will feature strategies on Collaboration and Inclusion for administrators, general and special education teachers, preservice educators, educational technicians, and related service personnel including strands on Collaboration and Behavior and Collaboration and Academics.

  • Date:  Wednesday, October 4, 2023
  • Location: University of Maine Augusta
  • Cost: $50 per participant which includes breakfast, lunch, and a copy of the 2023 book of Connecting High Leverage Practices to Student Success: Collaboration in Inclusive Classrooms (Jenkins & Murawski).
  • Register for the conference here.
  • For more information visit the Inclusion Conference website.

Keynote Speakers 

Dr. Wendy W. Murawski

Wendy W. Murawski, PhD, is the Executive Director and Eisner Endowed Chair for the Center for Teaching and Learning at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), where she is also a professor in the Department of Special Education and the Director of SIMPACT Immersive Learning. Dr. Murawski is the national Past President of the Teacher Education Division (TED) of CEC and award-winning researcher, author, and educator, including Teacher Educator of the Year for the state of California. Dr. Murawski holds an EdS, MEd, and MBA and  is an internationally known speaker and frequently requested keynote speaker, presenting in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. She has published extensively around inclusive education, co-teaching, collaboration, and Universal Design for Learning, including 18 books and numerous chapters, blogs, and peer-reviewed articles. Prior to higher education, she was a general and special education teacher in Virginia and in California. Currently, Dr. Murawski is the CEO of 2 TEACHâ (www.2TeachLLC.com), an educational consulting company dedicated to promoting inclusive education, and 2 TEACHâ Global, championing inclusive education around the world.

Dr. Melissa C. Jenkins

Melissa C. Jenkins, PhD, is an assistant professor of Special Education at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA and co-author of Connecting High-Leverage Practices to Student Success: Collaboration in Inclusive Classrooms. She brings over 18 years of public school experience to her role as a teacher educator, having worked in Virginia public schools as a special education teacher, instructional coach, and central office administrator. Dr. Jenkins is dedicated to helping educators bring high-quality, inclusive practices to schools. She is also a consultant with 2 TEACHâ Global educational consulting. She loves speaking and writing about collaborative practices, early mathematics intervention, and positive behavioral support. When not working, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga to find literal and figurative balance in life.

Why Inclusion?

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires that each public agency (SAU) must ensure that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. §300.114

Over 20 years of research studies have consistently demonstrated that the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms results in favorable academic, social, and economic outcomes. This includes positive benefits for typical peers in classrooms who benefit from involvement and relationships with students who have disabilities in inclusive settings.

Effectively including students with disabilities in the general education classroom requires teachers and school administrators to further develop an understanding of the individual strengths and needs of the whole student.

For more information about Inclusion in Maine or the What Really Works in Education conference, contact Tracy Whitlock at tracy.w.whitlock@maine.gov.