The City Sentinel Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill requiring dyslexia screening for early elementary students not reading on grade level was signed into law by the governor on Tuesday (May 19)..
House Bill 2804, authored by House Majority Leader Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, and Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, 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.
“I’m thankful to the governor for signing this legislation that will be life-changing for these children,” Sanders said. “Too many of our children with dyslexia have been left behind in learning, and getting them the help they need is as simple as properly identifying this disorder. When these kids catch up with their peers in reading and other subjects it not only leads to a happier school experience but a better life.”
Bice said the issue was personal because her godson was dyslexic. She thanked the governor and fellow legislators for supporting the legislation.
“With proper screening, we can get dyslexic children the help they need to become stronger readers, giving them the tools to be successful in school and in life,” said Bice. “This is going to make a positive difference in the education outcomes of countless Oklahoma children.”
H.B. 2804 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.
“Our student advocates have given a face to dyslexia in Oklahoma. They have struggled to learn to read, but have been determined not to see others have the same fate. As their parents and educators, we have advocated for H.B. 2804. Alongside the State Department of Education, the Dyslexia and Education Task Force, and members of the Legislature, we have worked to improve reading outcomes for struggling readers, including students with dyslexia,” said Michelle Keiper and Tiffany Jenkins of Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma. “Change in education is never easy, but OSDE is providing the leadership needed in the Reading Sufficiency and Special Education departments. Together we are making great improvements in Oklahoma.”
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 H.B. 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. All of the bills represent several years’ worth of work on this issue.
NOTE: Sanders represents District 59 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Dewey and parts of Blaine, Kingfisher and Woodward counties. Bice is senator in District 22, northwest Oklahoma City.