State lawmakers have an opportunity to make sure all public school students have an equal opportunity.
A package of bills focusing on testing and interventions for children with dyslexia is now under consideration in the Legislature.
The measures are simple, straightforward and should be easily implemented by the state Department of Education.
For instance, they would require early screening tests for dyslexia as well as training for teachers on recognizing dyslexia and appropriate interventions.
First, though, one bill would require a universal definition and understanding of dyslexia in the state education code. As it now stands, dyslexia is categorized dyslexia is categorized one of the specific learning disabilities that may impair the ability to understand or use language, or perform mathematical calculations. However, the state regulations don’t specifically define dyslexia.
Specifically, dyslexia is a neurological disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
In order to have everyone on the same page, that definition – and understanding – is vital.
Considering that dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting millions of children, it’s essential that misunderstandings be mopped up with the facts. First among them, dyslexics do not read backwards.
The measures pending in the Statehouse are advocated by Decoding Dyslexia (www.DecodingDyslexiaNJ.org), a Princeton-based group committed to dispelling misconceptions about dyslexia. Their message was amplified recently with the HBO documentary “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia,” directed by James Redford, son of actor Robert Redford.
And the organization, started in 2011 by eight parents, has grown to include chapters in 22 other states.
“The biggest sign of growth, and what shocks us the most, has been the national response,” says Elizabeth Barnes, one of the founders. ”Every day, we have parents from all over the country asking how they can start a group like ours in their state.”
[Via New Jersey]