PA 15-97—sSB 1054

Education Committee

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA

SUMMARY: This act makes several changes to state education law regarding dyslexia, a reading disability. It requires the education commissioner to designate an employee to help parents and local and regional boards of education detect, and intervene on behalf of, students with dyslexia.

The act also requires that teacher preparation programs and in-service training programs include additional dyslexia education and training. By law, prospective teachers must take a curriculum that includes instruction in literacy skills, including the detection and recognition of, and evidence-based interventions for, students with dyslexia. The act requires that the (1) dyslexia education be at least 12 clock hours and (2) student evidence-based interventions be “structured literacy” interventions.

Additionally, boards of education must, under existing law, provide in-service training to teachers in a number of areas, including health and mental health risk reduction education, school violence prevention, and other topics. The act adds to the training (1) the detection and recognition of students with dyslexia and (2) the related evidence-based, structured literacy interventions.

The law requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to develop or approve kindergarten through grade three reading assessments that boards of education must use to identify students reading below proficiency. The assessment must, among other things: (1) measure phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension and (2) be compatible with best practices in reading instruction and research. The act requires that the assessments assist in identifying, in whole or in part, students at risk for dyslexia or other reading-related learning disabilities.

It also extends by two years, from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2016, the deadline for SDE to develop or approve the reading assessments. The act requires that the assessments be ready for use by school districts for the school year starting July 1, 2016, rather than July 1, 2014. It also extends, from February 1, 2013 to February 1, 2016, the deadline for the commissioner to submit the assessments to the Education Committee.

Under the act, dyslexia has the same meaning as found in SDE's guidance manual for individualized education programs (IEP) under special education law (IEP Manual and Forms, revised January 2015). The manual defines dyslexia as a type of specific learning disability that affects 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).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

OLR Tracking: JM: DC: TA: bs