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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Massachusetts Enacts a Dyslexia Screening Law

From Special Education Today
A Special Education Law Blog from Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP

By Dan Heffernan, Esq.
November 12, 2018

On October 19, 2018, Governor Baker signed into law a bill requiring the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to issue guidelines to assist school districts to develop screening procedures for dyslexia.

The law requires that the state’s early literacy expert panel, which was created in 2012 to help ensure all students in the Commonwealth read proficiently by the end of third grade, include a member or representative of a “dyslexia advocacy organization.”

This panel not only gives the dyslexia community a seat at the table, but also now has an additional mandate to make recommendations regarding action steps to implement researched-based recommendations for student screening and teacher preparation methods regarding dyslexia and other reading disabilities.

Estimates of the number of students with dyslexia range between five and twenty percent and early identification and remediation greatly benefits those students.

While this legislation caps a successful and long effort on the part of many parties, diligence is still required to ensure that comprehensive screening and remediation are put into practice.

Dan Heffernan is a partner in the Special Education & Disability Rights practice group at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts.


Chapter 272

AN ACT RELATIVE TO STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 57 the following section:-

Section 57A. The department of elementary and secondary education, in consultation with the department of early education and care, shall, subject to appropriation, issue guidelines to assist districts in developing screening procedures or protocols for students that demonstrate 1 or more potential indicators of a neurological learning disability including, but not limited to, dyslexia.

SECTION 2. Section 1 of chapter 287 of the acts of 2012 is hereby amended by inserting after the word “education”, in line 8, the second time it appears, the following words:- ; provided further, that 1 member shall be a representative or member of a dyslexia advocacy organization.

SECTION 3. Said section 1 of said chapter 287 is hereby further amended by striking out, in line 40, the word “and”, the third time it appears, and inserting in place thereof the following words:- the identification of neurological learning disabilities including, but not limited to, dyslexia and.

SECTION 4. Said section 1 of said chapter 287 is hereby further amended by striking out, in line 49, the word “and”.

SECTION 5. Subsection (b) of said section 1 of said chapter 287 is hereby amended by striking out clause (6) and inserting in place thereof the following 2 clauses:-

(6) action steps to implement the research-based recommendations contained in reports written by experts in early language and literacy development; and

(7) action steps to implement research-based recommendations contained in reports written by experts in early language and literacy development on student screening and teacher preparation methods with respect to reading disabilities including, but not limited to, dyslexia.

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