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Senate approves Theis bill to help children with dyslexia

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Wednesday approved a bipartisan plan to provide critical help for students with dyslexia, through improved educator training and more stringent student screening.

“Michigan has never had a statewide, coordinated strategy to help children with dyslexia, until now,” said Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, who chairs the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee and sponsored Senate Bill 381. “We must remove the stigma from dyslexia and make sure our students are getting the support they need to ensure they’re getting the education they deserve. Literacy, perhaps more than anything else, is the key to unlocking a limitless future of possibility and success.”

Theis’ bill would require teacher preparation institutions to offer instruction on the characteristics of dyslexia, the consequences of dyslexia, evidence-based interventions and accommodations for children with dyslexia, and methods to develop a classroom infrastructure that meets the needs of students with a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) in place.

Other measures included in the package are:

  • SB 380 to require school districts to screen students in grades K-3 (and certain students in grades 4-12) for reading difficulties using a universal screening assessment. If the assessment shows a child is having trouble learning to decode, the school district must ensure support is provided in the form of MTSS.
  • SB 382 to require that “professional” level teaching certificates are only issued after an individual has received instruction on the six areas outlined in SB 381. According to the Michigan Alliance for Special Education, about one in five students has a reading disorder. It is estimated that most of these students may have some form of dyslexia — a minimum of 5% to 10% of the population — which is between 108,000 to 217,000 children in Michigan alone.
  • SB 383 to establish a resource advisory committee of experts to help public schools make sure no students fall through the cracks.

The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.