- The Iowa Department of Education has appointed a task force to focus on dyslexia and ensuring that more students are meeting reading goals by 3rd grade, according to WHOtv.com.
- Required by legislation passed this year, the task force will address areas such as screening students, the range of intervention options, teacher training and professional development, accommodations in the classroom and assistive technology.
- Iowa Department of Education Deputy Director David Tilly said in the article that roughly 20% of the state’s students have dyslexia, a learning disability in which individuals have difficulty attaching speech sounds to a word or learning how letters represent sounds.
The state’s attention to students with reading difficulties comes as a recent report from the National Center for Learning Disabilities suggests that in writing their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), most states neglected to specify specific goals for students with disabilities. States that do list their goals often have set lower expectations for students with disabilities, and only about half of the states, the report says, “provide a detailed description of how they will work with their existing special education plans to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.”
The authors also include detailed descriptions of where states are lagging and leading in areas such as considering how interventions for low-performing schools will benefit students with disabilities and addressing those students' needs across multiple ESSA programs. The report recommends district leaders explicitly state how they are using ESSA resources – for example, in the area of professional development – to strengthen the focus on students with disabilities.
Recent coverage of dyslexia has also drawn attention to a lack of expertise among teachers in the area of reading instruction, as well as how some approaches to teaching reading are not well-suited to the needs of students with the disability.