Lawmakers consider guide to help students with dyslexia

Published: Oct. 25, 2019 at 6:07 PM CDT
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The Wisconsin legislature continues to move ahead with a bill requiring the state Department of Public Instruction to create a guidebook on dyslexia and other related conditions.

The bill moved through the Senate Committee on Education last week, but it still has a few more stops before it could reach the governor's desk.

The Green Bay Area Public School District has had conversations about addressing literacy and dyslexia. In September, the board supported efforts by lawmakers to create a guidebook for parents, students and school districts to reference.

"For us, it's a time saver," Nancy Chartier said.

Chartier is the school district's executive director of teaching and learning. She says it would provide an updated literacy resource.

"We can't leave that to a piece of literature that is not updated on a regular basis and not in tune to what the current research is telling us or guiding us into what direction," Chartier said.

Chartier said the district monitors a student's progress from the time they come into the district and try to detect learning issues early on, but the district doesn't diagnose neurological disorders.

"We don't identify dyslexia, but the behaviors that represented or present themselves in a dyslexic student are very much the same behaviors that we see in education in our basic readings, our foundational reading skills," Chartier said.

The Howard-Suamico School District says a diagnosis of dyslexia typically comes from a medical provider but the district does its best to adapt to the student's needs.

"It just looks a little bit different in terms of what pathway we might take to do ongoing assessments, to do progress monitoring. The goal is that we're creating an individual plan one way or the other for a student," Howard-Suamico Deputy Superintendent Mark Smith said.

One way the district says it's been addressing literacy needs is by recruiting highly qualified teachers through partnerships with area colleges.

"We've actually had literacy methods courses taught on our campus to realize that partnership and be able to take advantage of influencing up throughout the system, because we know that's going to be a solid return on our investment when we hire," Smith said.

As far as the school district's stance on a state guidebook, Smith says it doesn't change what they're doing.

"Regardless of how the legislation directs, we're committed to ensuring we're meeting the needs of all of our students," Smith said.

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