The Right to Full Literacy

Years ago, I had the privilege of working on the Alabama Direct Assessment on Writing. I specialized in working with schools that had scored below the 50th percentile. I travelled around Alabama working with numerous schools. In my first year, I met a young girl we will call “Beth” for anonymity. The school was a small K-8 school in an underserved community. With large Coke bottle glasses and a sweet smile, Beth had an IQ score of 78. In my first year at the school, Beth was in third grade. She never spoke to me, but she sat as close as she could to soak it all in. In fourth grade, Beth moved her chair closer to the board, but once again, she never spoke to me. Thinking she was non-verbal, I approached her special education teacher who simply said, “She’s warming up to you. Give her time.” Sure enough, on the first day of school of Beth’s fifth grade year, she spoke her first words to me. “Mr. Butler, I’m going to pass this...

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