The Georgia State Legislature met Friday, August 17th, with a panel of experts on dyslexia. Members included a licensed psychologist who tests for dyslexia, a UGA professor who developed and runs a dyslexia certification program, and others in higher education. Several topics were presented regarding the need for a better understanding of dyslexia and an action plan for those students who are identified.
A main topic that prevailed was the need for universal screening of dyslexia for young children. The idea is to have screening similar to that of the vision and hearing tests of students beginning elementary school. There were many questions as to how to implement the test, who would conduct it, and how to implement intervention.
The panel further recommended the need for teacher training courses to include a minimum of one course in the decoding of words. This would comprise of syllabication, morphemes, phonics, sentence structure, and paragraph structure. Also, the panel recommended professional development to current K-12 teachers. The idea is to implement interventions to receive instruction by a Dyslexia Specialist in each school.
The panel will meet two more times to discuss further recommendations and options. This is a huge step for the state of Georgia to begin the discussion of the widespread impact that dyslexia has on students. If between 10%-20% of the population has a form of dyslexia, it makes sense to intervene and implement evidence-based practices to intervene. Although promising and a step in the right direction, this overhaul will take an enormous amount of effort and planning to see results. That said, this is definitely reason for those in the dyslexic community to celebrate.