Gayle Harrell pushes public schools to better accommodate students with dyslexia

The measure would set up a Dyslexia Task Force within the Department of Education.

State Sen. Gayle Harrell is backing legislation (SB 1438) that would require students in kindergarten through grade 3 to be screened for dyslexia at the beginning of the school year.

The measure would also set up a Dyslexia Task Force within the state’s Department of Education.

Those provisions aim to help the state’s public schools better prepare to teach dyslexic students.

The dyslexia screenings would take place within the first 30 days of a school year for all public school students in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

“Each public school student in kindergarten through grade 3 who exhibits a substantial deficiency in reading at any time, as demonstrated through his or her performance on a dyslexia diagnostic assessment screener approved and developed by the State Board of Education, must be placed in an intensive remedial intervention program,” the bill reads.

Should a student be found to have dyslexia, that student’s parents will then be notified. The student can be tested again both in the middle of the school year as well as at the end of the year to assess any progression in the student’s ability to read.

Each public school would also be required to employ at least one staff member “trained in the instruction of students with dyslexia.”

A separate provision of Harrell’s legislation would establish the Dyslexia Task Force within the Department of Education.

That task force would offer recommendations to help schools identify students with dyslexia, as well as establish a curriculum for those students.

The group would also issue guidance on accommodating students with dysgraphia and dyscalculia. Dysgraphia is a learning disability which results in students struggling to write or spell. Dyscalculia is a disability whereby students struggle to understand arithmetic and other mathematical concepts.

The task force would be set up within 90 days of the act’s effective date, which is listed as July 1, 2020.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


  • Kim Dixon

    January 8, 2020 at 10:55 am

    This may be the happiest news I have heard in a long long time. We have battled this issue in Tallahassee and Leon County Schools for years. Both of my children are dyslexic and getting them the assistance they need has been a challenge to say the least. Screening will help of course, however teaching methods must be addressed. Florida State University is doing some major work in researching appropriate interventions but until these are implemented across all curriculums the current “band aids” will not suffice. For these children the shame and anxiety that comes with trouble reading is life altering. I urge you to stay on top of this important issue. thank you

  • Rachel

    January 8, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    Thank you for writing about this very informative article. My bright 7th grade daughter has dyslexia and she struggled to learn to read. Fortunately, she had me as a Mom who made sure she got the write interventions. Unfortunately, there are so many dyslexic kids who fail third grade and never learn to read successfully. This bill will ensure that dyslexic children are identified early and get the right interventions. This bill has to pass this legislative season since it will change so many children’s lives. Last year over 43,000 third graders failed the 3rd grade reading FSA with a score of 1, and sadly many of those children were retained. By implementing a screener in K – 3 grade we can help these kids before they fail. We can literally change their lives. Thank you Senator Harrell for writing such a life altering bill.

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