Kentucky initiates new law to help children with dyslexia

What is dyslexia?  What are the best research-based practices to teach reading to students with this learning disability?  What governmental supports are needed to make this possible?

The definition of dyslexia varies almost as much as the 50 US states.  Some states have no laws related to dyslexia.  Others have created task forces to study dyslexia.  Still others mandate a specialist in this field in the state department of education.

But now Kentucky seems to have developed the gold standard to respond to dyslexia with the passage of House Bill 187 which went into effect a month ago, on July 14, 2018.  That law mandates the following:

  • A comprehensive definition of dyslexia (developed by the International Dyslexia Association) will govern discussions of dyslexia in Kentucky. Other states have adopted this same definition, but still others have less comprehensive definitions.
  • By January 1, 2019, Kentucky’s Department of Education will develop and provide a “toolkit” that includes guidance on the training of staff in any school district so that the staff can use practices backed by research in the teaching of students with dyslexia.
  • This “toolkit” will be designed to teach children in grades K through 3.
  • Kentucky’s Department of Education will work with colleges and universities to be sure teacher training includes information on how to identify and teach children with dyslexia.
  • Each local board of education is asked to develop a plan to identify and teach children with dyslexia, and to report to the state each year data demonstrating how many children have been identified and what efforts have been made to teach them.
  • Using three distinct school districts, the Department of Education will study the screening and teaching of students with dyslexia for three years beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. Data from this study will be used to determine the effectiveness of early intervention for children identified as dyslexic.

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