Did you know dyslexia screenings in the public schools will be required in Washington State starting in the 2021-22 school year?
     Historically, schools have not screened for or even mentioned dyslexia as a disability category for special education. Students were not considered for a learning disability in reading and other academic areas until the age of 9, or about 3rd grade. This model was criticized for its “wait to fail” implications. The new legislation will fix that issue and look for students with reading difficulties starting in kindergarten.
     Sheri Hamlow and Marni Graveline attended a Washington State legislative update on dyslexia screening for K-second grade students. The presenters came from several different areas: Jessica Ruber – president of Washington Branch of International Dyslexia Association (WABIDA) , Gerry Pollet – Washington State representative – 46th district and parent of a dyslexic reader, Aria Jackson – OSPI administrator working on the project, and Sarah Beutow – a Dyslexia Instructor and parent of a dyslexic reader.
    A constituent of Mr. Pollet’s brought up concerns about the new legislative process. Having a dyslexic child himself, Mr. Pollet was eager to get the process of dyslexia screen started. The bill has progressed significantly since it was introduced. A 1998 pilot study in this area provided explicit instruction for students that led to the development of a Dyslexia Handbook that provided valuable resources. When the funding ended, so did the program. That information is still valuable and is part of the current process. The process started with free online tools that would make it easier to screen and find dyslexic readers. The current definition of dyslexia from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and WABIDA states:
“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
    Dyslexia screenings will begin in the 2021-2022 school year in Washington State. Prior to that, OSPI must convene a specialized council to address concerns such as: training, funding, and identifying tools and resources. More than 150 education and professionals applied for the specialized council. In conjunction with OSPI, the specialized council recently approved and began collecting and evaluating a list of potential screening tools that can be used by school districts. Currently, there are 295 districts involved with approximately 250,000 kids and 12,000 educators.
Timeline
•   Provide inventory of students screened – presently ongoing
•   Look at and Identify screening tools – 2019 school year
•   June 2019 – screening tools identified
•   Implement changes in 2021-2022 school year for students K-2
     ARK has a unique opportunity to participate within this new process and help work with struggling students through ARK’s research based interventions. We could also help with screenings, amongst other academic issues, which would benefit from early screening and intervention.