Act 1054, a bill to aid students with dyslexia, recently passed in Connecticut. It now requires that the state’s Department of Education designate a specific employee to “provide information and assistance to local and regional boards of education and the parents or guardians of students relating to the detection and recognition of, and evidence-based structured literacy interventions for, students with dyslexia.” This act should hopefully help teachers and staff better recognize the signs of dyslexia as well as develop appropriate and timely interventions. In addition, the law states that the Department of Education must provide training on dyslexia in teacher preparation programs as well as through professional development/in-service. The bill also requires that in-service training must now include teaching reading skills and reading readiness to teachers in grades kindergarten to three.
To assist teachers and staff in recognizing students with dyslexia, the bill states that the Department of Education will “develop or approvereading assessments”on or before January 1, 2016, and tobe used by public schools thereafter. These assessments will be administered to students in grades kindergarten through three measuring phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension in orderto identify students who are below proficiency in reading.
Although the bill is primarily about students with dyslexia, it also encompasses a number of other statutes. One such section states that the Connecticut Department of Education will “assist and encourage” local and regional boards of education to include Holocaust and genocide education and awareness, historical events surrounding the Great Famine of Ireland, African-American history, Puerto Rican history, and Native American history. Taking into consideration the Common Core’s emphasis on nonfiction, this new law may very well impact many districts’ present curriculum to include texts that highlight these issues.