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 3/25/29, 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.
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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