A dyslexia task force to study and make recommendations on student screening, interventions, teacher preparation and training, classroom accommodations, and assistive technology for dyslexia will start at the beginning of the state’s fiscal year, July 1.
Advocates for dyslexia are anxious for the Department of Education to appoint the members of the task force later this summer so they can get started. Members will include a representative from the University of Northern Iowa which is the only institution in Iowa with documented expertise in dyslexia to improve literacy in Iowa classrooms through their work at the Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy.
The group will seek best practices that are needed in Iowa’s K-12 system to address students with dyslexia. The group is also tasked with a suggested timeline for implementing their recommendations which may take into account the training of Iowa teachers before any changes in teaching are brought to the classroom. They will only have until November 15, 2019 to provide the Legislature their recommendations.
SF 2360 has come on the heels of other successful dyslexia legislation in Iowa. In 2014, SF 2319 defined “dyslexia” in law. In 2016, SF 2196 required teacher preparation for at-risk reading to include strategies that formally address dyslexia whether or not such students have been identified as needing special education.
Because dyslexia may not be recognized and diagnosed, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe, it is difficult to estimate how many are effected. The University of Michigan estimates that
between 5-10% of the U.S. population has dyslexia, but this number can also be as high as 17%. Of people with reading difficulties, 70-80% are likely to have some form of dyslexia.