Runestad leads bipartisan charge to help students with dyslexia

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad and a bipartisan group of his Senate colleagues introduced legislation this week that would provide additional help for students with dyslexia.

“Overcoming dyslexia myself, I know just how hard it can be for students without the proper help,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “By addressing dyslexia, we can make a meaningful difference for some of our most vulnerable students and their families.”

Dyslexia, a learning disorder with a cluster of symptoms, is marked by difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. It affects an estimated 5% to 10% of the population. While there are scientifically proven solutions to treat children with dyslexia, early intervention is key.

“Michigan has no statewide strategy to help students with dyslexia, so this help is long overdue,” Runestad said. “We have put these bills together with top experts on dyslexia. My measure, Senate Bill 383, would establish an advisory committee with expertise to guide our public schools to 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 experiencing difficulty 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 new teaching certificates are only issued after an individual has received instruction on the five areas outlined in SB 381.

Runestad also highlighted the funding for dyslexia proposed by the K-12 appropriations subcommittee on Thursday. The subcommittee budget would include half a million dollars for direct instruction to teachers on how to help students with dyslexia learn to read, as well as over $30 million for literacy coaches across the state. It also would provide safeguards for structured literacy instruction to help ensure all Michigan children can become better readers.

“Teachers who have taken the dyslexia training courses have testified to the program’s success,” Runestad said. “By expanding access to this pilot program, we are making a real difference for some of our most vulnerable.

“By finally investing in their proper education, we can make a real difference in the lives of students with dyslexia and open up new worlds of opportunity for the next generation.”

SBs 380 – 383 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Career Readiness.