Michigan Senate passes dyslexia education bills
Legislation aimed at helping Michigan students who show signs of dyslexia made it out of the state Senate Wednesday.
Speaking from the Senate floor, Senator Lana Theis (R-Brighton) said the four-bill package would help improve literacy.
“Michigan’s never had a statewide coordinated strategy to help children with dyslexia until now. We must remove the stigma from dyslexia and make sure our students are getting the support they need to ensure they’re getting the education that they deserve,” Theis said.
The bills would require schools to screen students for characteristics of dyslexia using a universal assessment. Schools would also need to provide tiered support to students showing dyslexic traits.
Senator Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) said students who don’t receive help can fall behind.
“The outcomes are not good if they haven’t had early intervention. If they’re in the high school, you’re going to sit this child down and then first get them all sounding out letters,” Runestad said told reporters. “It is such an awesome undertaking. I mean, we’ve done a disservice for decades and decades.”
Michigan law does require schools to conduct reading assessments and provide individual plans for children who show a deficiency.
But supporters of the bill package argue the state isn’t doing enough to address the needs of dyslexic students.
The legislation would also require teachers to undergo a certain level of dyslexia-specific training.
Under the bills, teachers who haven’t taken a qualifying dyslexia-related instruction course couldn’t gain professional certification.
“A lot of the conversation in committee was about the assessment and the interventions and exactly where those lines were drawn,” package co-sponsor Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) said. “But one of the most important parts of this legislation was actually that training piece. That training and investment to make sure the next generation of educators have all the skills and all the tools they need to help students learn to read.”
The legislation also emphasizes the importance of teaching students to sound out words.
It now heads to the state House of Representatives after receiving broad support in the Senate.