Dyslexia screenings law brings concern

8 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago July 01, 2016 Jul 1, 2016 Friday, July 01 2016 Friday, July 01, 2016 7:08:00 PM CDT in News
By: Lishan Guo, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Missouri passed a bill requiring dyslexia screening for students. In the 2018-19 school year each public and charter school will begin providing dyslexia screenings.

Those with dyslexia have trouble reading despite normal intelligence levels.

"One of the keys to it is identifying students at a very early age, so those strategies can be employed early, so those students can become successful in the school in the long run, and that's really what we are trying to do," Brent Ghan, spokesman for the the Missouri School Board Association, said.

The new law will also require two hours of in-service training regarding dyslexia and related disorders provided by each school district for all practicing teachers.

"This law will allow our teachers in our classrooms to be more aware of this condition that might emerge in some of their students and provide with them some strategics to deal with it," Ghan said. 

The law will also provide reasonable classroom support consistent with guidelines developed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Cathy Cook is an educator with a masters degree in special education, and she is also a mom who has children with dyslexia. Cook has been doing research on dyslexia for more than 30 years. 

She said the good part of this new law is "making people aware" of what dyslexia really is.

"Over the years, people are aware of dyslexia. They know what it is, but they have this idea that just means that you see things backwards or upside-down. There's so much more to it," Cook said.

However, Cook also had some concerns because she said dyslexia students might learn in different ways.

"If we are using the same tools and techniques that the school is already using. So if you have a student in third grade, and so several years you've been teaching them phonics, and it's not really helping them. If you're going to continue to use that same method, maybe that's not gonna be the best method," Cook said.

Cook also believes two hours for practicing teachers are not adequate.

This act will create a legislative task force on Dyslexia with 20 members. The task force will advise and make recommendations to the Governor, Joint Committee on Education and relevant state agencies.

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