Assemblymember Frazier Introduces Dyslexia Bill to Assist Special Needs Students

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Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) has introduced Assembly Bill 1369 on February 27th, 2015, which will benefit California students with dyslexia.

The bill requires screening for dyslexia, teacher training, evidence-based remediation, and the term dyslexia to be defined as it is by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Tobie Meyer, a Brentwood resident and mother of a son with dyslexia, is a lead legislative member of Decoding Dyslexia California (DD-CA) and a member of the Northern California Branch International Dyslexia Association (NCBIDA). Having California legislature introduce this bill is a huge victory for students, parents and teachers. Decoding Dyslexia California hears daily from parents who struggle to find evidence-based instruction at California’s public schools.

“We really see this bill as a chance to improve reading equity for California students. Many affluent families pay for private tutoring while other families cannot.” DD-CA offers parent support groups in various regions of the State. We also offer dyslexia simulations to school districts.   The simulation allows the attendees to experience what it feels like to be dyslexic in a classroom and we offer advice on “Dyslexia Friendly Classrooms”.   “Teachers are hungry for this information, which, through no fault of their own, was not provided to them during their university training,” Meyer said.

Decoding Dyslexia California is part of a nationwide, grassroots effort to improve services to children with dyslexia. There are Decoding Dyslexia chapters in all 50 states and four Canadian provinces. Last year, 18 laws were passed nationwide to improve education for students with dyslexia.

Jim Frazier states, “I am proud to author AB 1369.  This bill will provide schools with the necessary tools that will ensure students with dyslexia receive the help they need as they begin their education.  The early years of elementary school provide the foundation that students need to achieve success throughout their learning lifetime.”

On average, three to five kids in every U.S. classroom have dyslexia, a brain-based learning disability that often runs in families and makes it difficult to read, write, and spell. For these children, the path toward reading is often marked by struggle, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. Students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia usually have already experienced multiple failures at school.

“In 2013, 54% of California fourth graders read below grade level,” according to National Center for Education Statistics. “Early identification, coupled with comprehensive early reading interventions, an reduce the percentage of children reading below basic level in 4th grade from the current National average of 38% to less than 6.”

For more information, contact Decoding Dyslexia California at decodingdyslexiaca@gmail.com, www.decodingdyslexiaca.org , or Tobie_ddca.advocate@yahoo.com

A quick look at the Bill:

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1369, as introduced, Frazier. Special education: dyslexia.

(1) Existing law requires all children with disabilities residing in the state, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, to be identified, located, and assessed. Existing law provides that a pupil who is assessed as being dyslexic and meets certain eligibility criteria for the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act category of specific learning disabilities is entitled to special education and related services. Existing law defines a “specific learning disability” as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, and includes in that definition dyslexia and other specified conditions.

This bill would require local educational agencies to screen all pupils enrolled in kindergarten and grades 1 to 3, inclusive, as provided, to identify dyslexia or other reading and writing dysfunctions, and to notify a pupil’s parent or legal guardian of any identified dyslexia or other reading and writing dysfunction, as specified. The bill would define “dyslexia” and “specific learning disability,” as specified. By imposing additional duties on local educational agencies, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

(2) Existing law encourages local in-service training programs for regular education teachers and special education teachers to include a component on, and institutions of higher education that provide teacher training programs to emphasize, the recognition of, and teaching strategies for, specific learning disabilities, including dyslexia and related disorders.

This bill would instead require local in-service training programs for school psychologists, regular education teachers, and special education teachers in local educational agencies to include a component on, and, commencing with the 2016–17 academic year, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to require institutions of higher education that provide teacher training programs to include instruction in, the recognition of, and appropriate evidence-based teaching methodologies for, dyslexia or other reading and writing dysfunctions. By requiring local educational agencies to expand their local in-service training programs, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

(3) This bill would require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop, on or before January 1, 2017, program guidelines for dyslexia or other reading and writing dysfunctions to be used to assist regular education teachers, special education teachers, and parents to identify, assess, plan, provide, evaluate, and improve educational services to pupils, as specified. The bill would require the Superintendent to adopt, on or before January 1, 2017, an evidence-based screening instrument to identify pupils, and an evidence-based, multisensory, direct, explicit, structured, and sequential approach to instructing pupils, who have dyslexia or other reading and writing dysfunctions.

(4) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.

The full text can be viewed by clicking http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1369&search_keywords=

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