In December 2020, the DC Council of the Whole passed legislation that addresses dyslexia in the city’s K-12 schools. This law will provide training to teachers on how to identify dyslexia and gives additional resources to schools to address this common learning disability. It also provides early intervention strategies through the use of evidence-based reading curricula to provide help for kids when they are learning to read.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is the most common type of learning disability in the U.S. and affects around 20% of the population. Yale reports that between 80 and 90% of people who have learning disabilities suffer from dyslexia. People with dyslexia have difficulty differentiating between the phonological sounds made with speech, which can cause them to have trouble with reading and writing. However, this learning disability is not correlated with intelligence, and many people who have dyslexia are smart.
Importance of the new bill
The bill that was passed by the DC Council still requires funding. However, it promises to offer critical help as children begin returning to school. Many children have fallen behind over the last year, and those who have undiagnosed dyslexia might especially struggle to learn. By providing evidence-based training and resources for the early identification of children with dyslexia, schools can offer tailored help to accelerate the learning process.
Without appropriate intervention, children can continue falling behind and face poor educational outcomes when they suffer from dyslexia. While the DC Council passed the bill, it still needs to be approved by Congress and funded. Ninety jurisdictions across the U.S. have passed similar legislation. However, since the District is a city instead of a state, its legislation must receive congressional approval and funding before it can be effective. While Congress has experienced recent delays, it is hoped that it will soon act on this important bill to help many children in the District.