JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Rep. Noreen S. Kokoruda, 101st Dist.
Sen. Catherine A. Osten, 19th Dist.
Rep. Linda A. Orange, 48th Dist.
Sen. Kevin D. Witkos, 8th Dist.
Rep. Michelle L. Cook, 65th Dist.
Rep. Pam Staneski, 119th Dist.
Rep. Jeffrey J. Berger, 73rd Dist.
Sen. John A. Kissel, 7th Dist.
Rep. Gary Byron, 27th Dist.
Rep. Vincent J. Candelora, 86th Dist.
Rep. Gayle J. Mulligan, 55th Dist.
Rep. Anthony J. D'Amelio, 71st Dist.
Rep. David Zoni, 81st Dist.
Rep. Bill Simanski, 62nd Dist.
Rep. Brenda L. Kupchick, 132nd Dist.
Rep. Selim G. Noujaim, 74th Dist.
Rep. David Alexander, 58th Dist.
Rep. Kim Rose, 118th Dist.
Rep. Jason Rojas, 9th Dist.
Rep. David W. Kiner, 59th Dist.
Rep. Sam Belsito, 53rd Dist.
Rep. Kevin Ryan, 139th Dist.
Sen. Art Linares, 33rd Dist.
Sen. Leonard A. Fasano, 34th Dist.
REASONS FOR BILL:
The purpose of this bill is to create statutory language for the State Department of Education to facilitate with local and regional schools best practices for detecting students with dyslexia as early as possible. The bill requires SDE to provide information and assistance to the public relating to dyslexia and that teacher certification include a certain number of credit hours devoted to the detection, recognition, and intervention with students diagnosed as dyslexic. The bill also requires dyslexic instruction as part of in-service training for educators.
Section 2, subsection f, line 20 the phrase “structured literacy” was added.
Section 3, subsection a, line 66 the phrase “structured literacy” was added.
A new section 4 was added into the substitute bill at line 81. Section 4a changed 2014 to 2016 on lines 83 and 86. Section 4b line 101 changed 2013 to 2016.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Senator Cathy Osten: Senator Osten testified in support of the bill citing that early identification is not taking place in many school districts because, “teachers and administrators do not have the knowledge or resources to properly identify and assist students with dyslexia.” She commended the committee for including in the bill a statutory definition of dyslexia, trained staff from SDE, and the minimum number of credit hours as part of teacher prep for detecting and providing evidence based-early intervention for students with dyslexia.
Steven Hernandez, Director of Public Policy and Research, Commission on Children: Mr. Hernandez testified that they are in support of the bill because, “teachers are not adequately prepared to diagnostically assess and prescriptively teach children fundamental reading skills.” He went on to describe the nature of dyslexia being related to phonological processing. The commission believes the bill is a critical first step to success on this issue.
Merrill Gay, Executive Director, Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance: Mr. Gay and the Early Childhood Alliance testified that they support the intent of the bill but believe that the bill will be, “largely ineffective without the addition of language to require a universal screen for dyslexia.” He added that when we don't identify which children need that support then we are unable to help those children.
Robyn Kaplan-Cho, Staff, Connecticut Education Association: Ms. Kaplan-Cho testified that, “improving teacher and administrator knowledge related to dyslexia is a worthy effort, given how fundamental reading skills are in every student's educational journey.” Ms. Kaplan-Cho did point out that the additional requirement of specific coursework may not be necessary citing that a currently offered special education class may already cover this topic. She went further on this noting that training of this type should be offered primarily on the elementary education level because by the time a student reaches middle and high school, “the problem should have been identified.”
Dr. Lydia Conca, Professor of Education, University of Saint Joseph: Dr. Conca supports the bill and the need to train teachers to detect signs of dyslexia early. She added that she believes additions to the bill should be added to provide licensed teachers the opportunity to be recognized for advanced expertise. Specifically she called for a new credential in reading disability intervention.
Dr. Joan Nicoll-Senft, Chair, Department of Special Education and Interventions, CCSU: Dr. Nicoll-Senft testified in support of the bill but stressed that the bill does not go far enough. She included that the bill should have, “mandated Connecticut teacher certification and ongoing professional development to include training on dyslexia, evidence-based intervention strategies, and the use of assistive technology for both general and special education teachers.”
Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, Co-Directors, Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity: Mr. and Mrs. Shaywitz testified that they support the bill believing it will build off of last year's success with HB5662. They want the goal of the proposed bill to be the improved reading of the state's population of dyslexic children. They did propose two changes that should be made to the bill including: (1) professional development programs targeted for teachers must provide evidence that the students of the teachers taking these programs actually improve in their reading performance, and (2) teacher preparation must use evidence based programs.
Allison Quirion, Founder, Decoding Dyslexia – CT: Ms. Quirion testified that the she supports the bill but favors added language addressing early assessments and evidence-based interventions provided by “highly trained and skilled practitioners.” Ms. Quirion identifies as the crux of the problem a lack of instruction to prepare teachers in Institutions of Higher Education. Connecticut has zero state universities that provide teachers with training on recognizing Dyslexia (compared to Massachusetts which Ms. Quirion testified has 3 state institutions). Ms. Quirion recommends that in lieu of schools offering courses, a specialized certificate and/or endorsement that offers master level or 6th year course work would assist teachers and schools in catching up on training.
Testimony was offered by the following people and organizations in support of the need for a law that requires instruction and certification to teachers and administrators on detecting warning signs for dyslexia early, specifically early childhood literacy. Many of the proponents listed also called for additional supports to various degrees in their testimony.
Adam Glassman, Student, Orange
Aimee Missett, Parent/Teacher, Waterbury
Alison Glerum, Associate Level Orton-Gillingham practitioner, Weston
Amanda Dawley, Parent, Montville
Amy & Scott Drowne, Parents, No location given
Benjamin Powers, Parent/Teacher, Southport
Beth Kells, Parent, Fairfield
Betty Granata, Parent, Norwalk
Bonni Fandetti, Ridgefield
Brenna Jaskiewicz, Parent, Oakdale
C. Melinda Desposito, Reading Specialist/Consultant, No location given
Carina Drake, Parent, Ridgefield
Carol Ann McClean, Parent, Stamford
Cathie Smollon, Parent/Teacher, Ridgefield
Cayden Dunn, Student, Newtown
Christine Fernald, Parent, Avon
Christine Flint, Southbury
Christopher Jaskiewicz, Student, Oakdale
Cynthia Bankoski, Parent, No location given
Dawn McNary, Parent, East Haddam
Diane Willcutts, Parent, West Hartford
Dominic Cotton, Milford
Donald Takacs, President, Dyslexia Society of Connecticut
Elisabeth Herdic, Parent, Lebanon
Elizabeth Rickey, AOGPE certified instructor, Southbury
Erin Holden, Student, Durham
Erin Wood, Parent, Southington
Gina Maroney, Parent, New Hartford
Greg Weingart, Parent, Harwinton
Harriet Clark, Special Education Teacher, Prospect
Harvey Hubbell V, Filmaker, Litchfield
Heather Freeman, Parent, Tolland
Jack Quirion, Student, No location given
Jackie Soroka, Parent, Mansfield
Jane Ross, Parent, Westport
Jean Sawicki, Remedial Reading Specialist, Mansfield
Jennifer Blackwell, Parent, Ridgefield
Jesse Burks, Student, East Haddam
Jessica & John J. Theisen, Parents, Milford
Jessica Glassman, Parent/Educator, Orange
Joan Cohen, Parent, Hamden
Joanne Colwick, Education Therapist, Lebanon
Joanna Cooper, Parent, Norwalk
Joe Davenport, Student, Middletown
Dr. Julie McCombes-Tolis, Professor of Special Education, Madison
Karima A. Robinson, CT Decoding Dyslexia Supporter, New Haven
Kathleen Kelley, Parent, Stratford
Kelly Howard, Student, New Hartford
Kerry Ullman, Student, Fairfield
Kevin Daley, Student, Norwalk
Kim Just, Parent, Cheshire
Kim Foss, Parent/Educator, Thomaston
Kim Winslow, Parent, Weston
Kit Savage, Parent, Darien
Kyla Daley, Student, Norwalk
Laura Carl, Parent, Barkhamsted
Laurence Berliner, Attorney, No location given
Liam Kells, Student, Fairfield
Linda Sceles-Straubel, Parent, Darien
Lisa Beth F. Savitz, Parent, Greenwich
Lisa Davenport, No location given
Lynn Stabnick, Parent, Wethersfield
Madeline Soroka, Student, Storrs
Marc Hoffman, Educational Consultant, Stamford
Margaret Balboni, Mentor, Amston
Dr. Margie Gillis, Research Affiliate at Haskins Laboratories and Fairfield University
Majorie Fuller-Supple, Grandparent, Haddam
Meghan Pybus, Parent, Cheshire
Michelle Cubanski, Parent, Woodbridge
Nancy Chapel Eberhardt, Consultant, 3T Literacy Group
Nancy Prescott, Executive Director, Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center
Nicholas Carl, Student, Barkhamsted
Nicholas Dawley, Student, Montville
Nicole & Ignazio Bacile, Parents, Enfield
Patricia Babina, Tutor, Oxford
Patricia E. Rimkunas, Preschool Teacher, Seymour
Paul Hallahan, Parent, Ridgefield
Paula Luxenberg, Educational Therapist, West Hartford
Sheila Gallo, AbleChild, No location given
Sherryl Hauck, Parent, New Fairfield
Stefan Keilich, Student, Hartford
Sue Haynie, Parent, Norwalk
Susan LeClair Sharp, Educational Director Ben Bronz Academy, Vernon
Susan Lowell, Director Education Therapy Associates, Chapel Hill NC
Susan Santora, Founder and Clinical Advisor, Learning House, Guilford
Tai Kline & Doreen McGee, Grandparents, No location given
Tamara Morocco, Parent, Salem
Tara Pagliaro, Parent, Granby
Thomas Rimkunas, Student, Seymour
Vanessa Vowe, Program Director, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury
Ward Cubanski, Student, Woodbridge
William Supple, Haddam
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Connecticut Association of Boards of Education: CABE testified that they believe the bill added another specific area to, “the already lengthy list of in-service training requirements.” Citing a finite amount of time available and a lack of flexibility offered to local school districts to design an in-service training model to meet the needs of their students and staff.
Patti Fusco, Jurisdictional Vice President, AFT Connecticut: AFT Connecticut opposes the bill stating that there are “flaws in the plan.” Specifically they pointed out that only a licensed neuropsychologist can make a professional diagnosis of dyslexia and that most school districts do not have a position like this on staff. Ms. Fusco wrote, “I do not believe that even a full semester course on dyslexia will provide a teacher with the expertise to make a positive diagnosis of dyslexia.” AFT instead supports teacher preparation courses that should focus on teaching children how to read and how to recognize and remediate all types of learning problems, better preparing teachers for all reading issues they will encounter in the classroom.
Reported by: Joshua Flores, Assistant Clerk