OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1054 (File 498, as amended by Senate "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes several changes to state education law regarding dyslexia. It requires:

1. the State Department of Education (SDE) to designate an employee to help parents and boards of education detect and intervene on behalf of students with dyslexia; and

2. teacher preparation programs and in-service training programs to include dyslexia education and training.

Furthermore, the bill extends by two years, from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2016, the deadline for SDE to develop or approve reading assessments, which, among other things, help identify students at risk for dyslexia. It also extends, from February 1, 2013 to February 1, 2016, the deadline for the commissioner to submit the assessments to the Education Committee.

The bill also defines dyslexia for its purposes.

*Senate Amendment “A” changes the teacher preparation requirement in literacy skills focused on dyslexia from 12 semester credit hours or one and one-half credits to 12 clock hours.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

SDE DYSLEXIA POINT PERSON

The bill requires SDE to designate an employee to be responsible for providing local and regional boards of education and parents or guardians of students with information and assistance on the detection and recognition of, and evidence-based structured interventions for, students with dyslexia.

TEACHER PREPARATION AND IN-SERVICE TRAINING

Teacher preparation law requires prospective teachers to take a curriculum that includes instruction in literacy skills and specifically detection and recognition of, and evidence-based interventions for, students with dyslexia. The bill specifies that the (1) dyslexia education be at least 12 hours (clock hours not credit hours) and (2) student evidence-based interventions also be “structured literacy” interventions.

By law, local or regional boards of education must provide in-service training to teachers in a number of areas, including health and mental health risk reduction education, school violence prevention, and numerous other topics. The bill adds the detection and recognition of, and evidence-based, structured literacy interventions for, students with dyslexia.

READING ASSESSMENTS

The law requires SDE to develop or approve kindergarten through grade three reading assessments that boards of education must use to identify students reading below proficiency. The bill requires that the assessments assist in identifying, in whole or in part, students at risk for dyslexia, as defined in the bill, or other reading-related learning disabilities.

By law and unchanged by the bill the assessment must:

1. measure phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension;

2. provide opportunities for periodic formative assessment during the school year;

3. produce data useful for informing individual and classroom instruction, including the grouping of students and instruction selection based on individual student responses; and

4. be compatible with best practices in reading instruction and research.

Under current law, SDE had until January 1, 2014 to develop or approve the assessments. The bill extends this deadline to January 1, 2016. It also extends, from February 1, 2013 to February 1, 2016, the deadline for the commissioner to submit the assessments to the Education Committee. The bill requires the assessments to be ready for use by school districts for the school year starting July 1, 2016, rather than July 1, 2014.

DYSLEXIA DEFINED

The bill states, that for purposes of the bill, dyslexia has the same meaning as found in the SDE's guidance manual for individual education programs (IEPs) under special education law (IEP Manual and Forms, Revised January 2015).

The manual defines dyslexia as a type of “specific learning disability” that impacts reading, specifically spelling, decoding words, and fluent word recognition. It specifies that dyslexia (1) is neurobiological and is often inconsistent with a student's other abilities and (2) results from a significant deficit in phonological processing (i.e., difficulty in the ability to manipulate individual sounds of spoken language).

Dyslexia is a sub-category of “specific learning disabilities,” which are disorders of at least one basic psychological process involved in the understanding, or use of, written or spoken language that may manifest themselves in a number of ways involving the ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do math. These disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, or mental retardation or emotional disturbance, or environmental or economic disadvantage.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

32

Nay

0

(03/18/2015)

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

19

Nay

0

(05/13/2015)