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Common Sense Reading Reform - At Long Last

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Common Sense Reading Reform - At Long Last

Mya Dunlop

New Dyslexia Support Bill is Key to Supporting Early Readers, but Falls Short

The New York State Assembly is considering Bill #4330-A, which would require teachers, administrators and instructors to be certified in the area of dyslexia and related disorders. This bill would require school districts to formally diagnose students who have dyslexia, to acknowledge the diagnosis on their Individual Education Plans (IEP), and to provide dyslexic students with teachers trained to instruct them.

Hallelujah! Perhaps this is more common sense than miracle. It is key to the success of our students (and educational system overall) that we invest in our educators and ensure they are equipped with the most up to date methods for recognizing and supporting brain-based learning disabilities.

In addition, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña has recently announced a pledge and a plan to ensure that students become proficient readers by the end of second grade. Every elementary school will have a licensed reading specialist, who will focus primarily on helping struggling second-graders improve their literacy skills and ensuring that students with disabilities receive additional supports to keep them on track with their peers. Yay!

While I am thrilled at the progress that is being made, the same positive emphasis that is being placed on reading literacy must also be placed on writing proficiency. As students read to gather information and knowledge, they must be able to synthesize and express their ideas in both oral and written form. According to the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) only 24% of 8th through 12th grades are proficient in writing. Clearly, based on this statistic, students would benefit from more experience with learning the writing process. Therefore, it is vital that we continue to spread the word and push for increased emphasis in the area of writing education. The writing process must be highlighted, rethought, and structurally incorporated into the broader educational curriculum.

Slowly but surely, we are making positive strides toward revamping an aged educational system and embracing the wonderful diversity and individuality of our students. I wholeheartedly support Bill #4330-A and its requirement for professional development, applaud Chancellor Carmen Fariña in her quest towards reading proficiency, and look forward to a joint focus on greater student writing proficiency in the near future.