The first area of AB1369 addresses the need for early identification of dyslexia. Dyslexia has a rate of 1 in 5, yet most dyslexic children are never identified. This bill would mandate screening for dyslexia for all children annually from kindergarten through 3rd grade. Research shows that early identification allows for early intervention. When a child is given an intervention younger the timeline for that intervention is much shorter. The goal of this section is to close the gap, so struggling readers are found.
A secondary section looks at the need for a specific effective intervention to be utilized. The intervention needs to be evidence-based, not just research based. It needs to be structured, systematic and explicit. It is a generic way of referencing the Orton-Gillingham approach which has over 30 years of research. The problem is that schools do “interventions” whether through RTI or special education, but they are not the right intervention that target dyslexia.
Section three of AB1369 addresses the need for training. In service training is needed for general education teachers so that can know what to look for- risk factors, and specific reading and spelling issues within the classroom. Special education teachers, and any teacher providing reading intervention, need to be specifically trained on how to implement the research based reading intervention. It is very specific, but can be done. Lastly is the need for psychologists to be trained in the identification of children with dyslexia.
The last section may seem the simplest is defining and using the word dyslexia. Dyslexia is neurological in nature where a weak phonologic process exists. There is difficulty between the sounds and the symbols. It effects reading comprehension and fluency. The definition within this bill is a whole paragraph long. The wording is important because parents have been told that dyslexia doesn’t exist or is not real. Dyslexia exists within the federal IDEA. It is not used in our school systems. It will allow administrators to utilize the word dyslexia with a specific definition.