2018 IDA Annual Reading, Literacy & Learning Conference
General Sessions

Opening General Session • Wednesday, October 24 • 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

We know what we know, so what do we do now? Implementing best practices in all schools

Discover the latest in dyslexia research and its implications for interventions in school during this interactive discussion with distinguished researchers and educators. Attendees will learn what research is teaching us about dyslexia, the role of research in school-based interventions, and why interventions should be aligned with research. 


Peggy McCardle, Ph.D., M.P.H.P

Peggy McCardle Consulting, LLC

Research Scientist
Haskins Laboratories

Claudia Koochek

Head of School
Westmark School
Shawn Anthony Robinson, Ph.D.

Pure and Complete Phonics LLC

Senior Research Associate
Wisconsin's Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB)
University of Wisconsin Madison

Bob Broudo

President and Headmaster
Landmark School

Margie Gillis, Ed.D., C.A.L.T.

Founder and President
Literacy How

Research Affiliate
Fairfield University & Haskins Laboratories

Joanna Christodoulou, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor
Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders

MGH Institute of Health Professions

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Thursday General Session • October 25 • 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Presentation of the Samuel Torrey Orton Award
Samual Torrey Orton and June Lyday Orton Memorial Lecture

Why is it so difficult to diagnose dyslexia, and how can we do it better?
Rick Wagner, Ph.D.

It is common for individuals with dyslexia to be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. But now that we understand more about why this happens, we can use this understanding to improve our efforts to identify and help individuals with dyslexia. In this session, Dr. Wagner describes one path toward improving the diagnosis of dyslexia.

Presentation of IDA's Early Career Award for Contributions to Research to Dr. Peng Peng 

Friday General Session • October 25 • 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Norman Geschwind Memorial Lecture

A Molecular Genetic Perspective on Speech and Language
Simon Fisher


A significant proportion of children have unexpected difficulties mastering speech, language, and reading despite adequate intelligence and opportunity. It has long been suspected that genetic factors make a substantial contribution to such disorders. With advances in DNA methods, scientists can now identify key genes and study how they work. The FOXP2 gene provides a compelling example. Rare mutations of this gene cause problems with learning to sequence mouth movements during speech, accompanied by deficits in language production and comprehension, spanning spoken and written domains. FOXP2 codes for a regulatory protein that switches other genes on and off. Versions of FOXP2 are found in many species; studies of mammals and the FOXPs gene are deciphering how it affects the development and function of brain circuits. This research shows that genetic contributions to human language are built on pathways that are evolutionarily ancient. Overall, the FOXP2 story highlights the value of interdisciplinary research for tracing the connections between genes, neurons, brain circuits, and behavior.


Presentation of the Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award to Suzanne Carreker

Saturday General Session • October 26 • 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

A Path to Pride and Success
LeDerick Horne

LeDerick Horne is a poet, advocate, and co-author of the book Empowering Students with Hidden Disabilities: A Path to Pride and Success. Within this presentation, LeDerick Horne shares his own experience as a student with a learning disability who was able to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. As one of the nation’s most sought-after speakers dedicated to improving the outcomes of youth with disabilities, LeDerick helps all students develop positive identities as people with disabilities. In this session, LeDerick shares strategies to help students reach their transition goals and develop positive relationships in school and as adults.


Presentation of the Pinnacle Award to Jared Blank