We were honored to be part of Governor Kate Brown’s ceremonial bill signing for SB 612 on August 27, 2015. Joining the celebration were:
Back Row (from Left to Right) Alicia Frank Roberts, Ed.D, Assistant Professor of Education and Special Education Program Director at Lewis and Clark College, Jen Cappalonga, Diana Sticker, Rep. Val Hoyle, Emory Roberts, senior at PPS Lincoln High School and co-founder of the Dyslexic Student Union, Sen. Arnie Roblan, Lisa Lyon
Front Row (from Left to Right) Children of families from Decoding Dyslexia Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown, Gavin Eisele, student of Salem-Keizer school district
Below is the press release and details of the day! (‘Listen button’ available above)
OREGON STEPS UP TO ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN WITH DYSLEXIA
Gov. Signs Bill to Improve Teacher Recognition of and Instruction for Students with Dyslexia
(GRAND RONDE, OR) — In a move that will change the school experience of students with dyslexia for years to come, Governor Brown celebrated the signing of a new law requiring Oregon school districts to support teachers in understanding dyslexia so they can identify and provide effective instruction for students with dyslexia. The bill passed unanimously in the House and the Senate.
Joining the governor for the celebration were two of the chief sponsors of the bill, Senator Roblan and Representative Hoyle; Diana Sticker and Jen Cappalonga of Decoding Dyslexia; and the educators, children and families representing Decoding Dyslexia Oregon, the grassroots organization that was the primary force behind the bill.
“For too long, dyslexic students have struggled and often failed in school because their dyslexia is not identified or because the school’s method of instruction doesn’t work for them,” said Rep Hoyle, one of four chief sponsors of the bill. “This law is a game changer and the first major step forward in addressing the gap in school services for students with dyslexia.”
Dyslexia is a neurological condition, known to run in families, that makes it difficult to learn how to read, write and spell. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as one in five students has dyslexia. In Oregon, this equates to approximately 114,200 public school students with dyslexia. Yet Oregon’s teacher education programs typically do not provide coursework on dyslexia that would enable teachers to identify dyslexia and use effective strategies to teach these bright and capable students.
The new law requires that school districts ensure that at least one teacher in every elementary school is trained in recognizing and understanding dyslexia and in providing instruction that is explicit, systematic and evidence-based. School districts have approximately three years to train one teacher in each elementary school.
“The requirements of this new law will be a huge improvement. Despite my master’s degree in teaching and my reading endorsement, I was unable to recognize the red flags of dyslexia in my own child,” said Chrissy Clark, a Portland-based kindergarten teacher.
“This new law sets the wheels in motion for teachers across the state to receive training on the most common learning difference in their classrooms,” said Diana Sticker, one of the founding members of Decoding Dyslexia Oregon, which is part of a nationwide, grassroots movement of parents seeking improved services for children with dyslexia. “We are hopeful that as more teachers have the opportunity to gain knowledge on the latest research and effective tools for instruction, this will in turn prepare school districts and support teachers in helping our children with dyslexia succeed academically and demonstrate their remarkable gifts.”
Senate Bill 612 directs the Oregon Department of Education to develop a plan by September 2016 to screen every child entering kindergarten or first grade for the warning signs of dyslexia and to share results of the screening with parents. The department’s screening plan must be reported to the legislature and must be developed in collaboration with an organization with expertise in dyslexia.
“We know through research that early intervention with the right kind of instruction makes all the difference for struggling readers. Early detection through screening will be good for the student, their family, the school and the State’s reading goals,” said Rep Taylor, another chief sponsor of the bill, which was first introduced in March. Currently 34% of Oregon third graders are not proficient in reading, according to a 2014 study for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Under the new law, ODE must also designate a dyslexia specialist to fully support and provide resources to schools and families of dyslexic students. ODE must also annually provide a list of approved dyslexia training opportunities for teachers. Under the law, trainings must be in compliance with the knowledge and practice standards of an international organization on dyslexia.
Rep Hoyle, chief sponsor of the bill said, “The dyslexia specialist position is the centerpiece of the bill, providing districts with guidance and support to implement the new screening and teacher training requirements.”
“We are very pleased that the law is specific about what qualifies as appropriate teacher training,” Jen Capplonga added. She is a former teacher trained in special education and a member of Decoding Dyslexia Oregon. “Traditional reading programs do not work for a child with dyslexia. Remedial programs, which slow the pace or simply provide more practice, only make things worse. They create frustration, anxiety, and chip away at a child’s self-esteem.”
Senate Bill 612 allows funding to be distributed to the Network of Quality Teaching and Learning (NQTL) to ensure that a sufficient number of teachers have received dyslexia training. Schools that do not meet the training requirement and do not secure a waiver from ODE will be considered “non-standard.”
“In the bigger picture, the enactment of this law gives many frustrated parents a new way to approach their children’s teachers and administrators. In many school districts, teachers and administrators have been discouraged from using the word ‘dyslexia’,” said Lisa Lyon, another founding member of Decoding Dyslexia Oregon. “Now parents will be able to go to their principals and ask, ‘Which teacher is the one who is trained in dyslexia?’ That alone is a major step forward.”
Oregon joins 31 other states that have enacted dyslexia-related legislation.