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Senate Bill 398: Dyslexic Student Early Interventions

Dear May Center Community,

I am pleased to share some exciting news for students in New Mexico with you. Over the last three months, I have been working with Southwest Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and members of The Reading Group of Santa Fe to make recommendations to the New Mexico Legislature regarding early screening and intervention for students with dyslexia. This work has resulted in Senate Bill 398: Dyslexic Student Early Interventions, a bill that was introduced by Senator Mimi Stewart yesterday evening.

SB 398 is a critical step forward for students with dyslexia and all students who are behind in reading in New Mexico. First, it calls for dyslexia screening for all first grade students. Early screening catches students who are at risk for a language based learning difference BEFORE they fail. It does not require a special education referral, waiting in a cue for a diagnostic evaluation, or going through the IEP process.

Second, the bill calls for training in Structured Literacy for ALL Elementary school teachers. This training will ensure that 1) ALL students receive reading instruction that is in alignment with the science of reading, and 2) students with dyslexia receive instruction in the general education classroom with a methodology that works best for them.

Third, the bill mandates that if a child is identified as at risk for dyslexia through the brief oral screening, he/she will receive intervention through a Reading Interventionist, a specialist who has received specialized training through a certified or accredited structured literacy teacher training provider. This intervention can be delivered outside of the special education department. Districts across the country that have implemented this type of intervention in grades 1-3 have demonstrated a drop in their special education numbers because most students who receive intervention in the early grades go on to thrive in the general education setting and do not need special education services moving forward.

SB 398 will go to the Senate Public Affairs Committee in a few days. While we do not yet know the exact date of the committee hearing, we want to make you aware of this now, so that we can plan for the public comment opportunity. I will be speaking on behalf of the bill, and my understanding is that there will be an opportunity for others to speak as well.

As soon as we know when the hearing will take place, we will let you know. At that time, we would appreciate our parents and community members calling their Senators in support of SB 398, and showing up to the hearing if possible. Here is a link to help you find your Senator and his/her contact information >>

This is an important moment for students with dyslexia and for all students in New Mexico. In a state where only a quarter of third grade students read at proficient levels, this bill paves the way for a brighter future for our state. I am honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of this process, and I am grateful to all who have stepped up to support this bill.

With great hope,
Amy

Rebecca Anderson