New bill could mandate screening for dyslexia for every Louisiana kindergartener
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana lawmakers are pushing a new bill to help the state find and detect children that are suffering from dyslexia.
According to a nationwide study, nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population has dyslexia, but advocates say the state is struggling to identify and diagnose students.
Rep. Joe Marino (I-District 85) authored a bill that would mandate that every Louisiana kindergartener is screened for dyslexia.
Rep. Ammi Adatto Freeman (D-Distrct 98) shared her family’s experience with the learning disorder.
“My brother who’s in his 50′s is dyslexic, my husband is dyslexic, and two of my four children are dyslexic,” Freeman said.
Freeman and her family did not find out her son was dyslexic until he got to fifth grade, but they were able to diagnose her daughter at a slightly younger age.
The effect it had on her son mentally before they found out is why she’s pushing for more kids to get tested sooner.
“He was telling himself he was stupid, because he couldn’t keep up. So, sometimes kids build up their own narratives, so the confidence level that a kid needs to know, if you can catch them and give them the resources then you can put them on a path to success,” Freeman said.
According to Rep. Marino, too many kids are finding out too late in their academic careers that they have dyslexia.
“We’re mandating that the testing will occur in kindergarten, and we’re also mandating that the test that they use is one specifically designed for dyslexia.”
There have been concerns about funding, the structure of the test, and the additional training teachers would have to go through.
Marino says the tests would cost about $1.50 a student, which equals to about $75,000.
“What is the cost to society when we don’t educate these children? What is the cost when we don’t identify they have dyslexia and you have otherwise very intelligent students with a lot of promise who never get the education that they need to succeed. What does that cost,” Marino said.
They believe a new testing system could directly impact our test score and improve our graduation rates.
“That’s why it’s important to test these kids and catch them when you can,” Freeman said.
The bill will go before the Education Committee on Thursday, April 20.
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