OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill requiring dyslexia screening for early elementary students not reading on grade level passed the Senate on Wednesday and heads to the governor’s desk to await being signed into law.
House Bill 2804, authored by House Majority Leader Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, and Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, passed the Senate with a vote of 46-0. It previously passed the House 92-1.
The measure requires screening for dyslexia for students in kindergarten through third grade who are not reading on grade level beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
"Early screening for this disorder is a game-changer for struggling students," Sanders said. "Research is clear that when students with dyslexia are identified early and supported, they quickly catch up to their peers in reading and other academic subjects. This changes their trajectory in school and improves their lives in immeasurable ways."
Bice added, "I’m proud to carry legislation that addresses an overlooked issue in Oklahoma. This is personal to me because my godson was diagnosed with dyslexia. The sooner we can provide early dyslexia screening, the better their educational outcomes will be."
House Bill 2804 would require any student enrolled in kindergarten through third grade in an Oklahoma public school who is not meeting grade-level targets in reading after the beginning of the school year, to be screened for dyslexia beginning with the 2022-2023 school year.
The measure requires the State Board of Education to develop policies for dyslexia screening, and to adopt a list of approved qualified dyslexia screening tools. The bill also requires school districts to provide the State Department of Education with data about dyslexia, including the number of students screened for dyslexia each year, the number of students identified, and the process used to evaluate students.
"Early identification of risk factors for dyslexia is the exact type of information we wish our sons’ teachers had available when they were in early elementary" said Michelle Keiper and Tiffany Jenkins of Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma. "Instead, both of our sons struggled with the shame of being a struggling reader and teachers who were not able to target their reading intervention needs. We are excited to see this change happening for our next generation of struggling readers."
Last year, Sanders secured passage of House Bill 1228, which provides professional development for teachers across Oklahoma to help them better recognize signs of dyslexia in their students. Adding screening through HB 2804 was the logical next step, he said.
Sanders also authored legislation this year to add the Dyslexia Handbook to the list of tools available to teachers, parents and school administrators at no cost through the State Department of Education. Sanders said all of the legislation was a recommendation by the Dyslexia and Education Task Force and the SDE as well as Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma.