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What does the R.E.A.D. Act Really Mean for Students Who Have Dyslexia?

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pic2 Last month, President Obama signed the bipartisan R.E.A.D. (Research Excellence and Advancement for Dyslexia) Act into law.  This groundbreaking law was the work of Bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus co-chairs Rep. Lamar Smith and Rep. Julia Brownley, and 30 other co-sponsors.  This bill marks the first time dyslexia specific legislation has been made into law at a federal level. Many are excited about this new law, but questions have been coming in via social media. Specifically, we were hearing:
"Why do we need more research? Isn't dyslexia already one of the most researched disabilities? There's an action gap, not a knowledge gap."
This is a valid concern. To get to the heart of this question we turned to Edward Bray, Learning Ally Director of Public Policy and Advocacy. He says: "It's true that the READ Act authorizes and directs the National Science Foundation to set aside $2.5 million to support research into the science of dyslexia.  Unlike prior research though, the emphasis is to be on developing and proving the efficacy of interventions to help students succeed.  Through this funding, new professional development for teachers and administrators, new curriculum, and new classroom strategies and tools will be developed, tested, proven, and shared with schools across the U.S. "This milestone legislation was the result of years of work by dedicated parents, teachers, and students who advocated and lobbied Congress to introduce and pass the bill.  The READ Act is a classic example of how citizens, moms and dads can organize to have their voices heard, and their problems addressed." Turning to some of those parents, moms from Decoding Dyslexia say:  "I am very excited by the passage of this bill - one which so many us us worked hard to provide input and support." ~ Kathy Stratton, Decoding Dyslexia-NJ "To have the Federal Government looking into the science and research behind early identification, interventions, teacher training and pure understanding of what dyslexia is means so much. We will now have something to show our state and local leaders, it delineates importance. We have not only demonstrated with our federal congressmen & women that Dyslexia is REAL, they are now appropriating real dollars to helping identify and teach children with dyslexia how to read. It's monumental." ~ Jennifer Fitzer, Decoding Dyslexia-IL So, what exactly will this research do? According to a posting from Congressman Lamar Smith's office, the READ Act will focus on best practices in the following areas:
  • Early identification of children and students with dyslexia
  • Professional development about dyslexia for teachers and administrators
  • Curricula development and evidence-based educational tools for children with dyslexia
Nancy Duggan from Decoding Dyslexia-MA says, "Think of this as implementation research; this is a good thing." To sum it all up, says Ed Bray, "U.S. kids are ready to R.E.A.D."    

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