LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Jim Runestad on Tuesday joined the Senate Committee on Education and Career Readiness in unanimously endorsing a bipartisan package of bills he helped author to provide critical help for students with dyslexia, clearing the way for the legislation to be considered by the full Senate.
“This help is long overdue as Michigan has had no statewide strategy to help students with dyslexia,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Getting these bills to the finish line has been one of my top priorities for two terms now. We have worked hard to put these bipartisan bills together with top experts on dyslexia and advice from many key stakeholders, including testimony from parents and students. My measure, Senate Bill 383, would establish a resource advisory committee of experts to help our public schools make sure no students fall through the cracks.”
Other legislation in the package includes:
- SB 380, which would require school districts to screen students in grades K-3 (and certain students in grades 4-12) for reading difficulties using a universal screening assessment. If the assessment shows a child is having trouble learning to decode, the school district must ensure support is provided in the form of a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS).
- SB 381, which would require teacher preparation institutions to offer instruction on the characteristics of dyslexia, the consequences of dyslexia, evidence-based interventions and accommodations for children with dyslexia, and methods to develop a classroom infrastructure that meets the needs of students with an MTSS in place.
- SB 382, which would require that “professional” level teaching certificates are only issued after an individual has received instruction on the six areas outlined in SB 381.
According to the Michigan Alliance for Special Education, about one in five students has a reading disorder. It is estimated that a majority of these students may have some form of dyslexia, a minimum of 5% to 10% of the population, which is between 108,000 to 217,000 children in Michigan alone.
“As the son of two educators — and having had my own experiences teaching — I know good reading skills are vital in opening doors to new opportunities for students,” Runestad said. “More importantly, as someone who struggled with dyslexia growing up, I understand the challenges students face and how much more they can achieve with the right kind of help. By directly addressing dyslexia within our education policies, we can make a meaningful difference for some of our most vulnerable students and their families.”