Northeast Times

Corbett signs bill for dyslexia intervention program

A help­ing hand: State Rep. Ed Neilson stands with his fam­ily, Lt. Gov. Jim Caw­ley and Gov. Tom Corbett as Neilson’s young­est son, Ry­an, adds his name next to the gov­ernor’s sig­na­ture on le­gis­la­tion that will es­tab­lish the Dys­lex­ia and Early Lit­er­acy Pi­lot Pro­gram.

Gov. Tom Corbett last week signed in­to law House Bill 198, the Dys­lex­ia and Early Lit­er­acy In­ter­ven­tion Pi­lot Pro­gram, sponsored by state Rep. Ed Neilson.

The pi­lot pro­gram will provide early screen­ing for all stu­dents en­rolled in full-day kinder­garten for po­ten­tial risk factors for early read­ing de­fi­cien­cies and dys­lex­ia.

The pro­gram will op­er­ate in three school dis­tricts for a full three years. Par­ti­cipants will be se­lec­ted from a pool of dis­trict ap­plic­ants that will be giv­en the op­por­tun­ity to ap­ply for the pro­gram in the near fu­ture.

Three years after im­ple­ment­a­tion of the pi­lot pro­gram, the state sec­ret­ary of the De­part­ment of Edu­ca­tion will sub­mit an eval­u­ation of the pi­lot pro­gram to the Gen­er­al As­sembly con­tain­ing re­com­mend­a­tions to con­tin­ue, ex­pand or make changes to the pro­gram. 

“Today is a good day. Fi­nally, we can start provid­ing chil­dren with dys­lex­ia the re­sources they need to thrive,” Neilson said. “This pro­gram will al­low us to bet­ter identi­fy chil­dren in need of ex­tra as­sist­ance and at­ten­tion, and it has the po­ten­tial to provide us with a mod­el for oth­er spe­cial edu­ca­tion ef­forts that can pro­duce bet­ter out­comes at a lower cost.”

Neilson, his wife and chil­dren joined Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Caw­ley at the sign­ing ce­re­mony. Neilson’s young­est son, Ry­an, ad­ded his name next to the gov­ernor’s sig­na­ture on the le­gis­la­tion. Ry­an was the in­spir­a­tion for the le­gis­la­tion.

Di­ane Re­ott, a New­town Square res­id­ent and moth­er of a dys­lex­ic child, has, along with sev­er­al oth­ers, star­ted the Pennsylvania Dys­lex­ia and Lit­er­acy Co­ali­tion, which worked with Neilson on HB 198. 

The co­ali­tion con­sists of par­ents, edu­cat­ors, pro­fes­sion­als and like-minded groups, in­clud­ing the In­ter­na­tion­al Dys­lex­ia As­so­ci­ation, De­cod­ing Dys­lex­ia PA and Learn­ing Ally, whose goals are to raise aware­ness of dys­lex­ia and the need for bet­ter teach­er train­ing so that all chil­dren can learn to read.

ldquo;Ac­cord­ing to the latest re­search stud­ies, early in­ter­ven­tion, par­tic­u­larly in kinder­garten and first grade, can make a sig­ni­fic­ant dif­fer­ence in stu­dents’ suc­cess in school,” Re­ott said. “Thanks to HB 198, this pi­lot screen­ing will fi­nally put in­to place well-doc­u­mented re­search that early in­ter­ven­tion can help all stu­dents who are strug­gling read­ers while help­ing to re­cog­nize the dys­lex­ic stu­dents early.”

Dys­lex­ia is a brain-based learn­ing dis­ab­il­ity that of­ten runs in fam­il­ies and makes read­ing dif­fi­cult, and in many cases, pain­ful. 

Stu­dents who have been dia­gnosed with dys­lex­ia usu­ally have already ex­per­i­enced mul­tiple fail­ures at school.

In 2013, 27 per­cent of Pennsylvania fourth-graders read at a be­low ba­sic level.

“But with early in­ter­ven­tion, we can de­crease the num­ber of poor read­ers sig­ni­fic­antly,” Re­ott said. ••

You can reach at noreply@bsmphilly.com.

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