Pulling It All Together
For the 2024 Spotlight on Structured Literacy Series, IDA-GA and TRL-GA hosted four webinars focusing on “Promoting Structured Literacy: Policy to Practice.” Our first webinar (1/17/2024) began with Aligning State Literacy Policies & Practices: Connecting the Georgia Council on Literacy (SB 211), the Georgia Early Literacy Act (HB 538), and Georgia’s Dyslexia Efforts (SB 48)
In the past several years, the Georgia General Assembly passed three significant literacy bills – the Georgia Council on Literacy (SB 211), the Georgia Early Literacy Act (HB 538), and Dyslexia Identification and Supports (SB 48). SB 211 created a 30-member Council on Literacy with its primary role to monitor and report on implementation of HB 538. HB 538 requires screening of K-3 students on their reading proficiency three times a year, teacher training in the Science of Reading, approval of high-quality instructional and screening tools, and realignment of teacher certification requirements. SB 48 requires all K-3 students to be screened for dyslexia, the development of a dyslexia informational handbook, professional development opportunities for teachers, and the creation of a dyslexia endorsement for teachers. This presentation will address the alignment of these three legislative measures and the potential impact on changing the trajectory of literacy in Georgia. Link to webinar recording, slide deck, and guides: https://ga.dyslexiaida.org/event/2024jan17/
HB538: Georgia Early Literacy Act (K-3)
3/27/2023 PASSED the Senate. Watch here: https://youtu.be/hCh3GSve1R0
It’s on to Governor’s desk to sign within the next 60 days.
Friday, 3/3/2023 Message from DDGA: This Monday the 6th (Crossover day) two important literacy bills [HB537 & HB538] will go to the Floor for a full House vote. If they succeed, they will then “crossover” to the Senate for their consideration and voting before the end of session (Sine Die). PLEASE contact your Georgia House members before Monday. Use OpenStates.org website to look up your House member in the “lower” chamber of the Georgia Legislature. If you call, please identify yourself as a constituent and ask for their YES votes on House Bills 538 and 537 Monday. If you’re writing an email, please include your name, address and phone number at the bottom of the email to identify you as a constituent. The Subject line for the email should read: “Please Vote YES on HB538 and HB537” All you have to say in the email is, “I am the parent/grandparent of student(s) with dyslexia in Georgia schools. Please vote YES on House Bills 537 and 538 to improve reading instruction in schools.”
Friday, 2/24/2023 Message from DDGA: Georgia’s House Education Committee has dropped HB538, which is a comprehensive literacy act (think TN, MS!) which needs to move very quickly next week to make it to the Senate on Crossover Day, March 6th.
Please reach out to your Georgia House members this week and ask them to SUPPORT HB538. It calls for teacher training in structured literacy, knowledge of the science of reading, and other critical elements which would transform our schools’ approach to teaching reading. The bill is here.
The bill goes to Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 pm EST, and we need to let them know we’re hoping this Bill passes committee and moves to the floor for debate and vote.
Georgia Department of Education Dyslexia Handbook and Other Guides
- Georgia Department of Education Dyslexia Handbook (Updated 1/2022) – Additional Updates currently being made (2/2023)
- GA Professional Standards Commission Dyslexia Endorsement Guidance Document (July 2020, Rule 505-3-.112)
Taking Steps towards Advocacy
In this 30-minute interview on 2/24/2022, Parent to Parent GA talks with parent Tina Engberg, State Leader for DDGA about her journey in moving from advocating for her son to now sitting on various committees advocating for all children.
GaDOE awards $1.5 million to expand, improve dyslexia endorsement programs
MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office, email@example.com
-Follow GaDOE on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @GeorgiaDeptofEd
The list of awardees is available at the bottom of this release.
May 13, 2022 – The Georgia Department of Education is awarding $1,496,992 to 14 RESA and higher education program providers to help teachers obtain dyslexia endorsements and support students with dyslexia, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced today.
At its May meeting, the State Board of Education approved Superintendent Richard Woods’ recommendation to award Dyslexia Endorsement Service Provider contracts to seven Regional Educational Service Agencies (RESAs) and seven higher education institutions. The awardees may use the contract funds to cover tuition, fees, and exam costs for Georgia public school teachers enrolled in approved Dyslexia Endorsement programs. In addition, they may utilize the funds to support program improvement and expansion.
Each awarded RESA or higher education institution will advertise available opportunities to teachers, as applicable.
“Students’ future options increase exponentially when they master reading, a foundational skill that every child in Georgia should learn,” Superintendent Woods said. “These grants support dyslexia professional development initiatives across the state by providing Georgia public school teachers with opportunities to receive the training to improve reading success for all students, including students with dyslexia.”
The contract awards announced today are for endorsement programs approved before January 2022. New dyslexia endorsement programs approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) as of January 2022 may be eligible for future funding opportunities.
GaDOE is committed to helping teachers advance their skills and working closely with parents and partners in education to support students with dyslexia.
Dyslexia Endorsement Program Providers
• Central Savannah River Area RESA
• Columbus State University
• Georgia College and State University
• Georgia State University
• Griffin RESA
• Metro RESA
• Middle Georgia RESA
• North Georgia RESA
• Northwest Georgia RESA
• Shorter University
• Thomas University
• University of Georgia
• University of West Georgia
• West Georgia RESA
GaDOE provides $5.26 million in grants to support students with dyslexia
NOTE: In the state’s grant application and in the press release below, the state uses the term Multisensory as a synonym for Structured Literacy. Learn about Structured Literacy here.
February 17, 2022 – The Georgia Department of Education is awarding a total of $5,261,955 in grants to help school districts improve literacy outcomes and support students with dyslexia, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced today.
“Reading is a fundamental skill that all children in Georgia need because, with it, a world of possibilities opens,” Superintendent Woods said. “These grants will ensure districts, schools, and teachers have the resources they need to improve reading success for all students, including students with dyslexia.”
Thirty-one school districts are receiving Readiness in Literacy Grants, which will provide more than $4 million in federal funds to support early reading assistance programs for struggling readers and students with risk factors for dyslexia.
Ten school districts are receiving Multi-sensory Reading Instruction Training Grants, which will provide more than $1 million in federal funds so teachers in identified schools can receive multi-sensory reading training opportunities and resources.
“Thank you to district and school leaders who have made the transformational commitment to invest in proven reading programs and build teacher knowledge in the Science of Reading,” said Tina Engberg, parent and state leader of Decoding Dyslexia Georgia. “These efforts will change the trajectory of the lives of their students.”
GaDOE is committed to working closely with parents and partners in education to support students with dyslexia.
From DDGA regarding the 2/17 announcement: On [2/17/2022], the State Board of Education approved grants through two programs: Instructional Supports and Teacher Training to Address Readiness in Literacy and Multi-Sensory Reading Instruction Training. Through both grant programs, the state is awarding over five million dollars to the winning districts to train teachers in Orton- Gillingham, Wilson Reading, and LETRS. The DOE press release details who won the grants. We have asked parents who are interested in this to reach out to their own districts (especially if they did not receive funding) to advocate for their districts to apply for any future funding.
Updates and Next Steps – GaDOE State Dyslexia Committee Meeting
On Thursday, November 18, 2021, the GaDOE Dyslexia Team provided updates and next steps surrounding the Committee’s work. More information, including the link to the recording, can be found here.
Dyslexia Law, SB 48 – March 24, 2021 News Updates
- The Senate approved HB81 with a line item of $1.6 Million to fund SB48. This keeps SB 48 from being an unfunded mandate! Now HB81 goes back to the House. We don’t want to lose this appropriation. Parents, PLEASE contact House Leadership NOW and let them know you want the money to remain attached to SB 48 as they deliberate the bill for the last time in the House. Add your address and phone number at the end of any emails. If you are their constituent, please make that known. CC your own Representative so they are also in the loop. For more information on what you can do, visit DDGA at https://www.facebook.com/decodingdyslexiaga/.
- The State Board of Education will meet on March 25, 2021, to discuss a proposed rule change that relates to the Dyslexia Law, SB 48. A major concern is that the change does not include specific information on identification and acceptable, evidence-based interventions for students at the end of the identification process. Read the proposed change here. For more information on what you can do, visit DDGA at https://www.facebook.com/decodingdyslexiaga/.160-4-2-.32 (Redline) (2)
Georgia Special Needs Scholarship, SB 47 – March 24, 2021 News Update
The vote goes to the House on March 25, 2021.
Parents can reach out to their State Representative here: https://p2a.co/xkLty5N
or find their State Representative phone number here: https://p2a.co/H7t
A February 8, 2021, AP News article explains SB 47 would require Georgia’s scholarship program to grant money not only to students who have individualized education plans, as state law now says, but also to students with accommodation plans under section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act and students with a diagnosis of a specific disability. Students with 504 plans may be performing on grade level but need some kind of help.
Read the article in full here: https://apnews.com/article/georgia-bills-legislation-atlanta-0d88800ac0676257f95d373d734ae468
On March 23, Hannah Heck, a lawyer working with the American Federation for Children, contacted IDA-GA will this update: SB47, the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship legislation passed out of the House Committee, by substitute, in a bi-partisan 11-5 vote. Senator Gooch, the bill sponsor offered the substitute. The primary change in the substitute was removing the portion of the bill that was in the original senate version that would have allowed a student to qualify for the GA Special Needs Scholarship by diagnosis alone. This amendment brought additional support for the legislation and certainly dampened the concerns raised by opponents. To be clear, the substitute language changes nothing with the existing program.
As a reminder, SB47:
-Enables a student to also qualify for the GA Special Needs Scholarship with a 504 plan related to the list of diagnoses in the statute;
-Allows a student in public GA special needs preschool to qualify (so the scholarship could start as early as K);
-Provides a one-time COVID exception from the full one year public school requirement (a student must have been present for only 1 student count in the public school in 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 to be eligible for the scholarship in the 2021-2022 school year);
-Enables a student to return to the program that has previously participated;
-Creates an appeal process for scholarship calculation errors; and
-Establishes a parental satisfaction survey that will be publicly available.
Georgia Dyslexia Pilot Sites
Atlanta Public Schools
Morningside, Thomasville Heights, Slater
Marietta City Schools
West Side, Hickory Hills, Sawyer Road
Ware County School District
Muscogee County School District
Gentian, Lonnie Jackson, Hannan
Charlton County School System
Folkston, St. George
DeKalb County School District
Columbia, Montgomery, Dunaire
City Schools of Decatur
Westchester, Fifth Avenue
Jackson County School System
Gum Springs, West Jackson, East Jackson
GaDOE Releases Dyslexia Informational Handbook
Gov. Kemp Signs SB 48 into Law
IDA Corrects Inaccuracies in AJC Opinion Column
Response provided by Sonja Banks, Chief Executive Officer, International Dyslexia Association; Jennifer Topple, Chair of the International Dyslexia Association Board of Directors; Karen Huppertz, International Dyslexia Association Georgia Branch President Board of Directors
Senate Bill 48 Creates Dyslexia Legislation in Georgia
4/6/2019 Legislative Blog Post by Karen Huppertz, President, IDA-GA
What does this mean for current students?
On March 29, 2019, Senate Bill 48 made its way through the Georgia House and Senate for a final vote, marking the first real dyslexia legislation in the state. Governor Kemp is expected to sign the bill into law later this month. While this is great news for the future of Georgia students, don’t anticipate rapid change in the classroom. SB48 will not require local schools to screen all kindergarten students for characteristics of dyslexia until the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year. Further, as it is written today, SB48 will never address the needs of dyslexic students above third grade.
Why then is IDA-GA excited for this legislation? Because it is a great start toward eventually educating our teachers and school systems about the challenges these students face and strengths these students can and will contribute to our communities.
Here is what SB48 will do for Georgia students:
SB48 will provide a legal definition of dyslexia based on the International Dyslexia Association’s definition and specifically acknowledges the importance of phonemic awareness (the ability to recognize that words are made up of a sequence of sounds and be able to manipulate them for reading, writing and speaking).
The bill further states that a ‘qualified dyslexia screening tool’ will need to measure phonological awareness skills, phonemic decoding efficiency, sight word reading skills, rapid automatic naming skills, and accuracy of word-reading of grade-level text. (Remember a dyslexia screening is not a diagnosis. Hopefully, students identified through a dyslexia screening will be referred for further psychoeducational testing for a formal diagnosis, but the legislation (as currently written) will not require testing.)
Based on these steps, the new law will require the State Board of Education to develop policies for referring students in kindergarten through third grade for dyslexia screening “who have been identified through the RTI process” no later than July 1, 2020. These new policies will also include a list of approved dyslexia screening tools for schools, a process for letting parents know the results of the screening and a process for monitoring student progress after screening.
SB48 also requires the Department of Education to collaborate with the Professional Standards Committee to improve and update professional development opportunities for teachers specifically relating to dyslexia. By Dec. 30, 2019, the Professional Standards Commission will create a ‘Dyslexia Endorsement for Teachers’ trained in dyslexia awareness and how to use a dyslexia screening tool. This is a step in the right direction but does not mean teachers will be trained in Structured Literacy or how to appropriately help students learn to read.
The new law requires the State School Superintendent to establish a 3-year pilot program to “demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of early reading assistance programs for students with risks factors for dyslexia” beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.
Dyslexia Screening in all Schools
Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, local school systems will be required to screen all kindergarten students for dyslexia. At the same time, students in grades one through three will be screened if they have been identified through the RTI process. For parents with a kindergarten student exhibiting signs of dyslexia, their child will be in fourth grade before these required screenings take place.
At the College Level
Finally, SB48 requires (but without a deadline) the Professional Standards Commission include dyslexia awareness information in teacher preparation programs for elementary and secondary education instruction. New teachers coming out of colleges and universities will enter the classroom knowing the definition of dyslexia, how to spot the signs and screen students, and what kinds of instruction will help. This does not require teachers be trained in good instruction.
This isn’t the end of our efforts to inform and make change. Dyslexia advocates like those at the International Dyslexia Association Georgia and Decoding Dyslexia Georgia will continue to work toward strengthening dyslexia legislation in Georgia.
You can help by joining IDA to lend your support of our volunteer efforts to raise dyslexia awareness and provide educator training opportunities. IDA-GA, along with Decoding Dyslexia Georgia, invite parents and teachers to join in advocacy efforts.
Read the final draft of SB48 and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to get involved.
SB 48 Passes in the House
On 3/25/19, SB 48 passed in the State House of Representatives. WABE News published this report: WABE News ‘I Always Get Flustered’: Kids Urged Lawmakers to Pass Dyslexia Bill
SB 48 Passes Unanimously in the Senate
On 2/20/19, SB 48 passed unanimously in the Senate. It now moves on to the House! Now is the time to reach out to Representatives in the House. Click here.
Final Report of 2018 Senate Study Committee Meetings
What is Georgia Senate Bill 48?
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT…so as to provide for identification of and support for students in pre-kindergarten through second grade with dyslexia; to provide for definitions; to require the Department of Education to make a dyslexia informational handbook available to local school systems; to provide for certain information in the dyslexia informational handbook; to provide for ongoing professional development opportunities relating to dyslexia for teachers; to require local boards of education to develop policies for the identification and assistance of students with dyslexia; to provide for data collection; to provide for post-secondary teacher preparation programs to include instruction relating to students with dyslexia; to provide for the selection of local school systems to serve as dynamic laboratories of learning to demonstrate and evaluate the effectiveness of early reading assistance programs for students with risk factors for dyslexia; to provide for a report; to provide for a teaching endorsement in dyslexia; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
Dyslexia Legislation Moves Forward – Update 12/18/2018
At the Dec. 12, 2018, Georgia Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia meeting, Senator Fran Millar led the presentation outlining what a future dyslexia bill might contain. Senator Millar stressed this is only the first step. We are more likely to see a “simple” bill passed than one with our entire wish list. The committee’s report specifies the University System of GA mandate a dyslexia and language disorders course of study for students studying to become teachers. Second, there will be a “mandated” dyslexia screening in schools for all kindergarten students and anyone up to 2nd grade transferring into schools in Georgia. The screening will include an examination of phonemic awareness and phonological processing, sound/symbol recognition, alphabet knowledge, decoding and encoding, and receptive and expressive language. Lastly, there will be statewide guidance, teacher training, and evaluation.
The committee is currently working on a handbook that includes information about dyslexia and language disorders. The GA Professional Standards Commission will also be creating a “Dyslexia Endorsement” for teachers and staff to be able to recognize and appropriately respond to children with dyslexia and language disorders. It has been recommended this become a mandated standard.
Senator Matt Blass will take over from outgoing Senator Fran Millar to submit the recommendations as a bill after the first of the year in time for mid-term funding. When asked about a possible timeline if approved and funded, Senator Millar noted the earliest screenings might possibly begin in Georgia would be the fall of 2020.
View the Dec. 12 meeting here: https://livestream.com/accounts/25225500/events/8321724/videos/184700199 (Please note: the first 14 minutes are static. The meeting discussion begins at approximately 14:07 minutes.)
What you can do? Continue to contact your local legislators with your support of this effort. Find your local legislator here: https://openstates.org/ga/legislators/
SR 761 – Purpose of the Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia
Per the resolution, SR 761, the purpose of the Dyslexia Study Committee is to explore and draw attention to the profound educational impact of dyslexia on the education and lives of countless children, adults, and students in the State of Georgia. Early diagnosis is critical to early remediation with evidence-based intervention. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting approximately one in five individuals and approximately 80 percent of all individuals with a learning disability.
The AJC Article
On 11/23/2018, the AJC ran an article about the efforts of the Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia: https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/georgia-senate-committee-hopes-help-students-with-dyslexia/pCbVPUF7jG4MZJWsN6HWGN/
Numerous people have asked what they can do to support these efforts. Click here to view a letter from IDA-GA’s board president, Karen Huppertz.
Public Meetings of the SR 761 Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia
The meetings of the SENATE STUDY COMMITTEE ON DYSLEXIA have been held in Room 307 at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB), 18 Capitol Square SW, Atlanta, GA 30303.
The Dyslexia Study Committee final meeting for the adoption of the recommendations will be Wednesday, December 12, 2018, at 3:00 pm in 307 CLOB. The link to view the meeting is https://livestream.com/accounts/25225500/events/8321724
Recordings of the Past 2018 Meetings of the SR761 GA Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia
Watch, listen, and learn right along with the senators! Hear presentations from experts and public comments by parents and professionals:
Video of Senate Study Committee Meeting, December 12 at 3:00 pm
The first 14 minutes are static. The meeting discussion begins at approximately 14:07 minutes.
Video of Senate Study Committee Meeting, October 19 at 10:25 am
You will need to fast forward to the beginning of the meeting; the meeting started at approximately 25 minutes 25 seconds into the recording. Also, note that there was a fire drill during the meeting. Simply fast forward through that adjournment period.
Video of Senate Study Committee Meeting, September 14 at 10 am
Southern Regional Education Board Presentation
SREB Reading Screenings
University System of Georgia Presentation
Department of Early Care and Learning Presentation
Summer 2018 Georgia Legislative Update: SR761
The Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia, created by Senate Resolution 761 and sponsored by Senator Fran Millar, will work throughout the year to study community-based solutions to better identify and meet the needs of Georgia’s dyslexic students.
On June 29, Georgia’s Lt. Governor Cagle appointed the following Senators to the committee:
Chairman Fran Millar, Matt Brass, and Gloria Butler.
On July 27, Governor Nathan Deal made an additional two appointments:
Dr. Leslie Stuart, clinical psychologist and former board member for the International Dyslexia Association GA, and Mr. Garry McGiboney, deputy state superintendent for external affairs and policy at the Georgia Department of Education.
Are you interested in getting involved? Decoding Dyslexia Georgia (DDGA), one of the International Dyslexia Association GA’s partners, has a Legislative Task Force with volunteer opportunities. DDGA is part of a network of parent-led grassroots movements across the country concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia within the public education system.
IDA-GA looks forward to assisting the Senate Study Committee and the efforts of DDGA’s Legislative Task Force.
March 28, 2018 By now we hope you have heard the EXCITING NEWS: GA Senate Resolution 761 passed to create a study group for including dyslexia in the state education code! Thanks to each of you for joining IDA in contacting your legislators!
We plan to be part of the effort to form this committee – and we will look to you, our parents and partners, for guidance and support.
Along with our partners, Decoding Dyslexia Georgia and others, we will be supporting the following goals:
• A universal definition and understanding of “dyslexia” in the state education code
• Mandatory teacher training on dyslexia, its warning signs, and appropriate intervention strategies
• Mandatory early screening tests for dyslexia
• Mandatory dyslexia remediation programs, which can be accessed by both general and special education populations
• Access to appropriate “assistive technologies” in the public school setting for students with dyslexia
Read the resolution here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20172018/173137.pdf
Follow us on Facebook and here on our website ga.dyslexiaida.org and Decoding Dyslexia at www.decodingdyslexiaga.com.
March 28, 2018
By now we hope you have heard the EXCITING NEWS: GA Senate Resolution 761 passed to crea
Laws and Local Policies
What are the dyslexia laws in states across the United States?
https://dyslexiaida.org/ (Scroll down to the map of the US. Click the state to view state laws.)
US Department of Education, IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) Information
Includes Statute and Regulations
US Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Letter October 25, 2015
The purpose of this letter is to clarify that there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents.
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