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Massachusetts law will add a dyslexia advocate to early education panel

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BOSTON — State education officials will be tasked with issuing new guidelines for dyslexia screening in local schools under a new lawGov. Charlie Baker signed Friday afternoon.

Based on bills originally filed by Sens. Barbara L’Italien of Andover and Bruce Tarr of Gloucester, the bill (S 2607) also adds a dyslexiaadvocate to an existing early education expert panel. The panel, created under a 2012 law, will now also be charged with coming up with steps to implement “research-based recommendations” on student screening and teacher preparation around reading disabilities including dyslexia.

When the Senate passed the bill in July, L’Italien called it “a big first step today toward finally supporting thousands of students who just want to be able to learn alongside their peers, enjoy school, and go on to find success in life. Education is the greatest equalizer, and that starts with learning to read.”

The House passed the bill on Oct. 4, and both branches took the final votes to send it to Baker’s desk on Oct. 9.

Dyslexia affects one in five children in Massachusetts, according to L’Italien’s office, which said screening procedures for learning disabilities vary from district to district, making it a challenge for families to get the services their children need to succeed in school.

The new law calls for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to consult with the Department of Early Education and Care to issue guidelines to help school districts develop “screening procedures or protocols for students that demonstrate 1 or more potential indicators of a neurological learning disability including, but not limited to, dyslexia.”

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