Hot Topics – School Outfitters Blog Furnishing Great Places To Learn Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:51:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Guest Post: Helping Students with Stealth Dyslexia Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:36:00 +0000 "Twice exceptional" students are academically gifted but also have a learning difference.

“Twice exceptional” students are academically gifted but also have a learning difference.

This is the last in a series of guest posts from Brian Smith, an educator from North Carolina. Please share your experiences with dyslexia or stealth dyslexia in the comments.

In the simplest terms, dyslexia is an unexplained learning difficulty in reading that is not typical of the students’ general intelligence. Dyslexia is not a vision problem but rather a processing difficulty that occurs “behind the eyes.”

I recently learned the term stealth dyslexia, which is defined by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development as a student who is intellectually gifted but also has dyslexia. Stealth dyslexia falls under the umbrella of “twice exceptional,” meaning an academically gifted child who has a learning difference. The most common learning differences that coexist with giftedness are ADHD, dyslexia and autism.

Twice exceptional students can be hard for teachers to understand and can seem to have a lot of potential but may struggle on seemingly “easy” activities. For example, a child may struggle in reading by inserting, misreading, or omitting smaller words like the, was, or like but have superior comprehension. These students often go years without detection. They aren’t challenged to their academic potential. They also aren’t given needed accommodations to help them demonstrate how smart they are. The lack of accommodations can lead to poor self-esteem in twice exceptional students. Having the ability but not being able to express your knowledge can be very difficult for students to understand.

As their school years go by, these students often become frustrated. Others might assume the child isn’t putting forth enough effort. In actuality, twice exceptional students can be very creative. Teachers should not lower their expectations because students with stealth dyslexia are capable. There are several accommodations teachers can use to help these students show what they can really do:

• Extend deadlines to help them gather and organize their thoughts
• Let them answer orally so that they can focus on their answer and not getting their thoughts on paper
• Use capital letters beside each answer choice in fill-in-the-blank word banks. They are more distinct and less likely to be reversed in the blank answers
• Let students read information and questions aloud to themselves. This can help them read with more accuracy – often times when a student misreads a word, if they hear it, they can “catch” their error and go back and correct
• Remember that fair isn’t everyone getting the same, fair is everyone getting what they need

Providing students with stealth dyslexia the accommodations they need to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject know benefits the student and the teacher. The student feels successful and is able to grow academically. The teacher gains a student who is engaged in the classroom.

For more information about dyslexia, please visit

For more information about twice exceptional students, please visit,

An Examination of Common Core Mon, 27 Oct 2014 19:22:53 +0000 An Examination of Common Core

Note: This post was written by one of our bloggers and is not the opinion of School Outfitters as a whole.

Despite being nearly five years old, the Common Core standards that have been adopted by 44 states and the District of Columbia still have an air of mystery and doubt surrounding them. While most teachers are now quite familiar with these new standards, split between supporters and opponents, controversy and a lack of understanding still pervades the public-at-large. With this in mind, NPR has set out to help everyone understand the facts behind Common Core and clear up a multitude of misconceptions and other controversies.

The list of 25 frequently asked questions that about Common Core ranges from the basic (What is the Common Core?) to the complicated (What do the standards mean for math? and What do the standards mean for English?). Perhaps one of the more interesting answers, in light of the political backlash that some states are experiencing, is about the federal government’s role in creating the standards:

This is probably the biggest single source of controversy surrounding the Common Core. The truth is, the federal government played no role in creating the standards, nor did it require that states adopt them. But the U.S. Department of Education under President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan did incentivize adoption.

In July 2009, the Education Department created Race to the Top, a $3.4 billion grant competition. States that agreed to adopt the Common Core standards won points on their applications, increasing their eligibility for a share of the money. This carrot, with a deadline attached, helped spur a majority of states to adopt the standards within a few months after they were released in July 2010. The federal government also funded the state-led consortia creating the Common Core-aligned tests.

On a personal note, I believe that the backlash towards these standards is sometimes driven not by their content, but by the huge change that they represent. Everyone with a stake in education is naturally concerned about the future of the nation’s schools, so spreading the facts around and creating a healthy debate is the next best step in this process. No one really knows how Common Core will work out, but if there’s criticism to be leveled at it, let’s hope it’s based on merits and not misunderstandings.


For additional insight into the Common Core standards, check out NPR’s recent line of stories that focus on what principals and teachers think about the new standards and USA Today’s story about a recent teacher’s survey reflecting recent views on the standards.

School Segregation: The New Reality Fri, 25 Apr 2014 15:21:42 +0000 Credit: Maisie Crow for The Atlantic

Credit: Maisie Crow for The Atlantic

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, school segregation is the worst it’s been since the 1950s and it’s because of money. Though the separation present today is a far cry from the days of Jim Crow laws and “separate but equal” schools, the ratio of black to white students has been steadily getting worse. How could this be? We all know that the American educational experience in the mid-20th century was a tumultuous and frightening time for many. Yet, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent decades of legislation forcing schools to integrate, these issues should have mostly been eliminated, at least in the eyes of the law. Schools have become fully integrated with white, black and Latino students, among others, and all facilities are open to everyone, regardless of race or creed. Except, maybe they’re not.

All public schools were once segregated by race in the United States. These practices were outlawed by 1969, but it wasn’t until 1979 that enforceable desegregation laws were passed in Tuscaloosa, requiring the city’s largest high schools to merge and become Central High School. For decades afterwards, Central High became one of the most impressive integrated schools in the country, winning state sports titles, naming dozens of National Merit Scholars and achieving a dropout rate of less than half of Alabama’s average.

However, in recent years, pressure from parents’ groups and school councils was put on courts to overturn enforced integration laws. Over the years, middle-class white families had gradually pulled kids out of city schools, choosing to send them to mostly white county or private schools instead. This slow exodus of the wealthier white students led to an erosion of the tax base, causing a financial crisis for the school district. In short, the city’s leaders decided more flexibility was needed to create smaller neighborhood schools in hopes of luring those students back, which led to the end of laws requiring integration, the beginning of school district gerrymandering and the dismantling of Central High School 21 years after its creation.

The full story of Tuscaloosa’s integration problem is a fascinating read, and I recommend you take a look at the whole, complicated ordeal to get an idea of the history involved. Where in the past, separating black and white students was done on explicitly racial bias, now the division is based on the line between rich and poor, with identical end results. As the article points out, “Black children in the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades.” As a nation, we may believe we’re past dealing with these issues of race and money, but in communities across the country, they remain as difficult as ever.

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Too Many Tests Lead to a Kindergarten Teacher’s Resignation Thu, 03 Apr 2014 15:14:43 +0000 Teacher resigns

As a teacher, do you ever feel that you’ll one day reach a breaking point with red tape? For one Massachusetts kindergarten teacher, that day arrived last February, when she realized her passion for the job had been swallowed up by the waves of paperwork and assessment training that seemed to grow every year. After 20 years at the same school district, she sent a resignation letter that regretfully explained the difficulty she faced in increasing testing and data collection while still focusing on truly useful early childhood education.

As a veteran teacher, Susan Sluyter had seen her fair share of new training programs, assessments and teaching methods. Eventually, though, she felt the increasingly rigorous kindergarten standards and the requirements for endless teacher development became too much. In her words, “I reached the place last year where I began to feel I was part of a broken system that was causing damage to those very children I was there to serve.” With two decades of experience behind her, it’s easy to see how Ms. Sluyter viewed the constant movement towards more data and measurable progress as obscuring the kids’ education, the true point of the job.

If you’re a teacher who works in a school system where it feels like you’re running in circles, you should certainly read Sluyter’s full resignation letter and explanation over at The Washington Post‘s website. Even if you’re not in a situation like hers, the letter still offers great insight into the world of early education and the ways schools may be failing their students, even as they strive harder than ever to measure their success.

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Brain-Rattling Hits Mon, 09 Dec 2013 20:24:04 +0000


Crisp, fall weather. Loud, cheering crowds. The exhilarating speed of the game. If these things sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. High school football games are the most popular Friday-night events in hundreds of towns and cities all across the country. Which only makes a recent report on football concussions all the more alarming: athletes who play under those Friday night lights are more vulnerable to concussions than college or professional players.

Recent lawsuits against the NFL regarding its knowledge of concussions and their effects of player’s long-term health have brought the issue of football-related brain damage into the national spotlight. While the NFL settled those lawsuits (to the tune of $765 million), more research has been conducted on the lower levels of the sport, and the findings are concerning. Not only are high school students more prone to getting a concussion, but are also more likely to get a second one after the first.

The report also shows that other sports (including lacrosse, baseball and soccer) have a higher chance of causing concussions in young players. Girls’ soccer and basketball players were especially likely to experience at least one concussion. Perhaps the most damaging aspect in the report is the “culture of resistance” that exists around reporting these head injuries, even given the recent connections between concussions and brain trauma later in life.

While the report seems, at first glance, to demonize high school sports and their effects on students, the recommendations merely suggest possible rule changes, and better studies of concussions and their effects. Overall, the hope is for a culture change, where no player is afraid to report a concussion for fear of losing playing time, being thought of as a “wimp” or getting ridiculed for complaining. What do you think about concussions and high-school sports?

What Do You Make? Fri, 22 Nov 2013 11:03:23 +0000
Taylor Mali is a slam poet and a teacher. And, like other teachers, he’s a little tired of the “How much do you make?” question. In response, he created a poem called “What Teachers Make,” a piece full of the passion teachers across the country put into teaching day in and day out. An illustrated version of the poem’s been making the rounds online, check it out here. Fair warning, there’s a bit of cursing and a dose of anger, but the overall message is a good one. What do you make?

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