June 22, 2021
Binsfeld Office Building
201 Townsend Street
Lansing, MI 48933
RE: Senate Committee on Education and Career Readiness (SB 380-383)
We are reaching out to you today in support of SB 380-383, otherwise known as the Dyslexia Package. The Michigan Parent, Advocate and Attorney Coalition (MiPAAC), which was formed in 2020 for the purpose of giving voice to families of children with disabilities. Our work is centered around educating families on current special education issues and topics of interest, as well as to advocate for state policies and legislation that support their needs. We are unique in that we are an independent group of stakeholders without political interference that is solely focused on advocating for the education needs of children.
Many Michigan students are below grade level in reading and writing skills, ranking in the bottom third for fourth-grade reading nationally. Although many things may contribute, the primary factors impacting our State’s low literacy performance are:
- Inadequate early screening for reading difficulties.
- Inadequate teacher training.
- Inconsistent application of literacy instructional practices grounded in cognitive science research.
We believe that the passing of these bills will make a positive impact for those with the characteristics of dyslexia who struggle with decoding and word recognition. According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15-20% of the population have symptoms of dyslexia [emphasis added].
These bills will change the Revised School Code to allow for universal screening in schools for dyslexia, identification and intervention when children are learning to read, and provide the use of appropriate instruction, such as Structured Literacy, to be used in teaching reading. These laws will also identify students that, although not necessarily dyslexic, would benefit from reading instruction grounded in cognitive science. Passing legislation to address these issues is key to helping children across Michigan fulfill their potential. Forty-two states currently have statutes, regulations or pilot programs in place specific to supporting students with dyslexia. Michigan is one of only eight states that currently have no policy in statute or code that focuses on early identification of and support for students demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia.
Additionally, the bills provide training to teachers in the characteristics and accommodations for students with dyslexia and reading instruction based on cognitive science. We ask that you support these bills, because not only do teachers deserve to be highly trained so they may be effective, but our students should have access to instruction that will make them proficient readers. Only then, will ALL students reach their full potential academically and personally.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Members of MiPAAC