Massachusetts waits for kids to fail, rather than screening for early intervention. Without using the word dyslexia, kids get help too late and receive expensive services that are not guided by evidenced based practices for dyslexia. Most kids never recover. #StopWait2Fail #ScreenDyslexia
As a resident of Massachusetts you can: call your Representative or Senator at the Massachusetts State House or the local office and ask to speak with or leave a message for your legislator.
STEP 1 : Identify Your State Legislators and their contact information. This is easy and can be done using your home address at this click the highlighted link below: malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator
Remember that you have two State level Legislators : Your State Representative and State Senators are your legislators at the State House in Boston. Dyslexia Screening Legislation for Massachusetts is the topic of this page. (Your Federal Congressman or Congress Woman and Senators represent you in Washington D.C. , to learn more about national Dyslexia policy issues click here:) STEP 2 : Contact Your State Legislators, both your State Representative and State Senator.
Make phone call
Send a letter
Meet in person
The Bill Numbers are: For the Massachusetts Senate: S.294 and S.313 For the Massachusetts House: H.330 and H.2872 These bills have been Reported Favorably by the Joint Committee on Education and will receive new numbers See the sample letter below for an example but feel free to write your own.
Your legislator may have local office hours, plan to meet him or her and yes bring your kids.
Schedule a meeting at the State House or locally, if you can.
Speak to a legislative aid or other member to help them learn what voters want. Don’t be shy; any of these methods will do. Staff members will often take the time to hear what you have to say and get back to you, that is their job! Please take advantage of local office hours and yes bring the kids, its a learning experience.
Email is not always the fastest way to contact legislators, they receive large amounts of email, but will get back to you. Also, many Tweet and use Facebook too.
STEP 3 : Request that legislators write a letter of support to the Committee on Education supporting Dyslexia Screening Legislation. If you would like help explaining why dyslexia legislation for early screening is valid, efficient, cost effective and important to our students please contact DDMA. We can help. Decoding Dyslexia MA currently supports all of the Dyslexia Screening Legislation listed here. Download and read them by clinking on the Bill Number. S.294S.313 H.330 and H.2872
We also support HD.2449 a Prescription labeling bill that includes dyslexia.
STEP 4 Urge your legislators to support Dyslexia Legislation.
You should take some time to say why this legislation matters to you, think ahead and plan what you might want to say.
The purpose of this legislation is to screen students for earlier identification.
Use of the NIH definition will help ensure equal access to a Free and Appropriate Education (F.A.P.E.) to students with a known and well researched neurological condition called dyslexia.
Legislation is needed. If your school made if difficult or refused to accept dyslexia - share that important info.
There are a few main points that you can include when discussing Dyslexia Legislation. 1. Scientific Based Definition The science behind dyslexia establishes the neurobiological basis for dyslexia; that means it is due to brain structures, it is not a disease that needs to be cured but rather a different brain organization pattern. It is not reflected in intelligence, dyslexic brains are just as "smart" but learning to read follows a different pathway. Learning to read on grade level can and does happen if students get early and appropriate intervention, Most will never need special education after early and structured literacy instruction.
Currently most schools use a more broad SLD (specific learning disability) term that includes dyslexia but only after reading failure and only if exclusionary factors are discounted. Most often expensive outside testing at the parents expense is the only way to get an IEP with dyslexia specific instruction. "Language based" classrooms after learn to read years are less effective than the correct instruction at age 5-9.
Waiting to fail or struggle before being identified ignores that kids arrive at school with a neurobiological reason for foundational reading intervention. Waiting is against the guidelines of IDEA Child Find laws.
Current DOE regulations that factor in subjective information, cultural and linguistic differences are not based in science and are discriminatory. (see Mass DOE SLD exclusionary flow chart.) 2. Most Common & Most Researched LD This is not a small sub category, but by many standards, the most common type of learning disability as well as the most researched. Depending on the criteria of different studies you will see an occurrence of dyslexia in 10% - 17% of the general population and up to 80% of learning disabilities. Based on statistics, 80% of the Commonwealth's special education students have dyslexia but schools do not have the current most informed understanding of dyslexia and do not identify it or miss-categorize it. There is no state data collected using the term dyslexia, because many schools refuse to use the word dyslexia and only use a broad more subjective term, Specific Learning Disability. In multiple reports to the legislators, special education consultants have reported that the broad and subjective categories used in MA could be "an impediment to effective intervention".
3. Early Screening with Evidence Based Reading Instruction for Dyslexia Dyslexia screening followed by support with Explicit Sequenced Evidence-based Reading Instruction known to be effective with dyslexia reduces reading failure.3 Dyslexia screening in PreK, K and 1st grade can reduce reading failure and improve third grade proficiency.
4. Respectfully request that biology and neuroscience guide the definition and not educational theories or previous misguided educational regulations. Teachers and Educational Administrators and policy makers should be guided by facts and science in matters of students with well researched disabilities like dyslexia. The October 2015 US Department of Education Guidance on Dyslexia supports informed an accurate use of the term dyslexia in guiding interventions and instruction for dyslexic students. Read the Guidance Here.
1Research on this can be easily found, here in MA the Gaab Lab, at Boston Children’s Hospital is one place you can find this type of research based on Neuroscience, and how the brain learn to read.(both typical and dyslexic readers) http://www.childrenshospital.org/research-and-innovation/research/labs/gaab-laboratory 2NCLD https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/understanding-dyslexia#item1
Dear Representative/Senator ________________, Please support each of the 2017 Dyslexia Legislation bills. We hope you will support these current bills because each one was drafted intending to help kids who have dyslexia. S.294 , S.313, H.330 and H.2872 We appreciate each of the legislators and staff members who worked to understand this complex issue well enough to provide legislation that will help in a real substantive way.
Tell your child's story, the personal and financial costs, the delays and the struggles, the opportunities wasted.
We know from brain imaging studies that dyslexia is very specific, neurobiological and present at birth. Accepting the science based definition from National Institute of Health (NIH) would guide teachers and parents with the latest references and early intervention . Screening at age 5 is valid and virtually without cost. Mass Schools screen for vision, hearing and posture, dyslexia needs to be included. Not screening leaves children failing and waiting for diagnosis missing out on early intervention. NAACP considers dyslexia legislation civil rights legislation. Screening key indicators 1. Phonemic Awareness (PA), 2. Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) and Letter Sound Knowledge are foundational skills that all readers need. Screening at age five is good for all. Finding students at age 5 that have a deficit in these key areas can allow early targeted interventions specific to students at risk for dyslexia.
A definition would cost no money. Dyslexia is listed under IDEA and should be properly defined scientifically based on neuroscience. The US DOE recently issued guidance stating that is was appropriate to name dyslexia accurately. Not every student with dyslexia will need special education. In fact early screening can help target foundational literacy skills in regular classrooms in an appropriate way that improves reading for dyslexic students.
Early screening and targeting skills will reduce reading failure before 3rd grade. Screening at age 5 is cost effective. Most schools will need no investment beyond guidance from dyslexia research on the two key indictors at age 5. Researchers could provide webinars and or written guidance to help districts understand.
The scientific definition and the screening allow teachers and parents to focus on early literacy instruction on phonemic awareness and other foundational skills that these children will specifically need. Fewer students will fail and need to be categorized as SLD if this legislation passes.
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