Dyslexia recommendations before State Board of Education

A wide range of recommendations are before the State Board of Education to address students with dyslexia.

“We are already doing a lot of good things; we just have to be more strategic,” State Board Chairwoman Kathy Busch said.

Several other board members said the proposed changes are substantial, will require more work for educators and additional funding but are necessary.

“We have to catch kids before they fail,” Board member Jim Porter said.

The recommendations were recently outlined by Cindy Hadicke, who is an education program consultant at the Kansas State Department of Education and chaired a committee that evaluated the work of the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia, which forwarded its recommendations in January.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes it difficult to read due to problems identifying speech sounds. Some estimates are that one in five people show symptoms of dyslexia.

The recommendations are aimed at improving pre-service teacher programs, professional learning of teachers already in the classroom, screening and evaluating processes for children with dyslexia and dyslexia-like characteristics, and evidence-based reading programs. In addition, the state should create a dyslexia handbook for use by schools and identify a dyslexia coordinator within the Kansas State Department of Education.

Many of these changes should be put in place within the next year or two, Hadicke said.

The increased training and screening will require additional funds, but no estimate has been given yet.

Board member Jim McNiece said the recommendations, which will be voted on next month by the board, are significant. “What we are talking about is changing the culture of our school districts and our preparation programs,” he said. He said he feared some may perceive the recommendations as a “sledgehammer,” but added, “I want this to work.”

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