Parents of children with dyslexia celebrated legislation that passed in Washington last year requiring school districts to screen all young children. Dyslexia is a learning disability that can make it hard to decode words.
The statute says districts have until the 2021-22 school year to fully implement the law. But first, a dyslexia advisory council is working on identifying screening tools for use by schools.
“This is a universal screening, which means that it’s provided to all students and it’s used as an early warning indicator,” said Glenna Gallo, assistant superintendent of special education for the state. The tool is not the same as a full evaluation to diagnose dyslexia, she said.
Aira Jackson, director of English language arts and literacy in the state superintendent’s office, said the tools will be used to see if students have difficulty decoding the sounds that make up words.
“Perfect example – when we put the 'th' together, the 't' and the 'h' on their own make their very own unique sound, but when they’re put together as a team they make a new, unique sound,” she said.
The dyslexia advisory council is meeting in SeaTac Monday morning and seeking public comment. The council is supposed to give recommendations on the best screening tools to the state superintendent this summer.
School districts will be able to use state dollars from the learning assistance program to buy the tools and train staff on how to use them.
Parents of children with dyslexia say universal screening is an important move, because it could identify students at a young age so they can get the extra support they need.