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7/6/2016 Dyslexia screening bills signed into law
STATE HOUSE – Rep. William W. O’Brien and Sen. Frank S. Lombardi’s legislation (2016-H 7052 / 2016-S 2337) that adds dyslexia-targeted screening and assistance as a required aspect of the literacy program for students at the elementary grade level has been signed into law by Governor Gina M. Raimondo.

“Early detection is the key to helping students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities function successfully and excel within the school environment and into their adult lives,” said Representative O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence).  “These children are not broken or damaged, they just have an additional obstacle to overcome and this legislation will help those children who are in need of a little bit more assistance to become productive and flourishing students.”

“If undiagnosed, dyslexia can seriously complicate a child’s educational career, hampering them from reaching their true learning potential,” said Senator Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston).  “This legislation will ensure that children who do have dyslexia will receive the proper care during their crucial formative early years so they may have the tools and knowledge to overcome their dyslexia and be successful students.”

The legislation amends “The Rhode Island Literacy and Dropout Prevention Act” by directing the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to include dyslexia-targeted assistance as part of the existing literacy program and to offer to school districts, at no cost, training and professional development services to enhance the skills of elementary teachers in the use of evidence-based strategies to improve literacy skills of students with dyslexia.

“Both Massachusetts and Connecticut provide early screening for dyslexia and reading disabilities and their English SAT scores are significantly higher than Rhode Island’s, with Connecticut’s scores being 10 points higher and Massachusetts’ score being 19 points higher than Rhode Island’s scores,” added Representative O’Brien.  “It’s time we stop failing our children who are in need of our help the most.  We need to screen early, identify the problems and give our children the tools, support and opportunities they need and deserve to compete and thrive in the world.  With the implementation of this legislation and its practices, Rhode Island’s SAT score will go up 20 points.”

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903