School Psychologist Response to Critics
I am in my 31st year as a school psychologist. I am so grateful to have learned of the Irlen Method relatively early on in my career. Like you, I was very skeptical when I first heard of this process. It sounded too easy; another educational fad. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the difference identification and treatment can make for someone who has this visual-perceptual disorder.
In my school system, we have seen test scores increase significantly when students are regularly screened for this problem. In addition, teachers report that the attitude their students have toward reading has greatly improved; students come to class eager to read.
The local community college now has students complete a Reading Strategies Questionnaire when they enroll in the Adult Basic Skills Program. The questionnaire helps identify students who need to be screened so that they can use a colored overlay, if needed, to take their placement tests. This process was implemented after test administrators saw test scores improve anywhere from 1.3 to 6.5 grade levels (as measured by the TABE) for students who had originally failed the test. (The students were screened after they failed the test, given an overlay, and took a second form of the test. No instruction was provided in the interim.)
By the way, students are allowed to use colored overlays on the GED in addition to other placement tests. They are allowed on End of Grade and End of Course tests in North Carolina. They are allowed on tests such as the SAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc., with prior documentation.
There is now a great deal of research documenting the effectiveness of this process. Among the most exciting are SPEC scans documenting the differences in brain functioning and the improvements made with color modification.
I have worked with the Irlen Method for over 20 years now. During that time, I have met many, many individuals who have suffered needlessly because this simple screening was not made available to them. This process should be available in all schools. I encourage everyone in this field to keep an open mind and look further into this process.
Susan Youngman,School Psychologist
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, North Carolina