Universal dyslexia screening could lead to improved reading performance

Universal dyslexia screening could lead to improved reading performance
January 28 17:29 2018 Print This Article

Dyslexia first came to the attention of Representative Gary Clary of Pickens County when some of his constituents received exceptional needs scholarships to private schools when public schools were not meeting their needs. Shortly thereafter, his two grandsons were diagnosed with dyslexia. He soon realized that dyslexic students were falling through the cracks. They were being diagnosed years after interventions needed to be in place.

Representatives Gary Clary, Jason Elliot of Greenville, and William Cogswell of Charleston are sponsors of H. 4434, a bill to “to require the State Department of Education to provide a universal screening tool for use by local school districts to screen students in kindergarten through second grade for characteristics of dyslexia.” The South Carolina Department of Education gave Rep. Clary a cost of $6 million to administer such a test to all kindergarten through second grade students, but Rep. Clary suggests that the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen can be administered for 99¢ per pupil.

Dr. Sally Shaywitz of Yale University is a global leader in dyslexia research and advocacy. She developed a screening tool that schools can use to “quickly and reliably screen all kindergarten and first grade students for dyslexia.” She estimates that 20% of school children have dyslexia and defines dyslexia as “an unexpected difficulty in learning to read. Dyslexia takes away an individual’s ability to read quickly and automatically, and to retrieve spoken words easily, but it does not dampen their creativity and ingenuity.”

Early diagnosis and intervention can make all the difference in whether or not a dyslexic child is successful in school. Poor reading skills can lead to a host of academic and social emotional problems. Charleston County School District could improve reading performance by early detection and intervention. Reading problems need to be recognized and treated early on. H. 4434 is a step in the right direction.

Robin Steinberger retired after 30 years from Charleston County School District as a high school special education teacher.  She is the education reporter for Lowcountry Source.  Please contact Robin at robin@lowcountrysource.com.