Re: “Students with special needs diagnosed too late — or never” and “Many kids struggle with reading; will fresh teaching method help?”:

These articles caused a flurry of text messages and conversations between my teaching colleagues (retired and currently teaching) even in July.

I’m a retired educator with more than 30 years of teaching experience in primary grades. I’ve taught reading in three districts using many different methods — from phonics only to whole language to structured literacy to basal readers to workshop method. What I have learned is that there are many different ways in which children access reading. What I believe is that a strong phonics component, taught in a systematic approach, is essential for beginning readers, and using good literature is enriching and necessary to any program.

Teachers want students to succeed. We are aware that the discrepancy model does not identify or help students we recognize have reading difficulties. It is frustrating. Good teachers, most teachers, make every effort to find ways to accommodate those struggling readers. And, indeed, to accommodate every learner.

As Washington looks to change the current laws and practices, the Legislature will need to fund school psychologists, educational testing specialists, training for teachers and, most importantly, reading specialists in every elementary school. The classroom teachers cannot do it alone.

Mandy Budwill, Kirkland