California Needs Universal Screening Now

With an unprecedented budget surplus, California can implement required universal screening and support struggling readers early.

Reading is the key to education. Learners need to read in order to succeed in all subjects from math to art history. It is the singular skill that unlocks success in our school system. Unfortunately, California’s record on reading achievement falls short of the mark.

The California Reading Coalition reports that,“half of California’s students do not read at grade level. What’s worse, among low-income students of color, over 65% read below grade level.” These numbers are stunning and even more so when we have evidence that early intervention can change reading outcomes. Multiple studies suggest that if help is provided before the end of first grade, 90% of children with reading difficulties will achieve grade level reading abilities. We need a systematic plan to catch reading challenges early.

States Requiring Screening (Blue)

Source: National Center on Improving Literacy

Thirty-nine states have recognized the importance of early reading intervention and have adopted universal screening policies. Surprisingly, California is not one of these states. Studies have found that the number of students requiring special education can be reduced by up to 70% when early identification and prevention programs are put in place. Reducing students in special education can also create significant cost savings over time as it typically costs 3x more to serve a student in special education than in general education. 

We have reached a unique moment in time and have the opportunity to fix this. Our Governor, Gavin Newsom, has dyslexia and understands this issue personally. In addition, he has a record-breaking 2022-2023 $286.4 billion budget this year. The cost to require universal screening for risk of dyslexia would be in the low tens of millions of dollars annually. Given the wealth of money available, this would be a very small investment. Governor Newsom can include required K-2 universal screening for risk of dyslexia in his budget this year. Finding kids we know will struggle to learn to read is the first step in setting their course for future success. This should be an investment we can all get behind.

Want to see K-2 universal screening for reading risk including risk of dyslexia become a requirement in California?  Contact your state legislator and let them know how important this issue is to you and our community.

Does Your School District Want to Learn More About Dyslexia?

Does your school district want to learn more about dyslexia? Don’t miss these five free dyslexia webinars for CA school districts co-sponsored by Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and Glean Education.

DDCA Leaders recently connected with LACOE, and we are impressed with their lineup of upcoming dyslexia webinars.  Each webinar is targeted for a specific audience within your school district.  District staff can sign up for all five webinars or just the webinars that they are interested in.  A recorded version is available for those who pre-register but are unable to attend the live version.  You must be employed by a CA local education agency to register for these free webinars. Please share with your local school district. There are limited spots so pre-register today.

“Quality reading instruction is pivotal in both teaching young learners to access the code, but also in diagnosing issues that students may have. We’re seeking to raise educator awareness in understanding the scope of dyslexia and all of its complexities, while giving tools and strategies for them to address these issues and provide targeted, ongoing supports.”

-Leslie Zoroya, RLA Coordinator, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Here are the links to each of the Dyslexia series webinars (times are PST):

Understanding & Recognizing Dyslexia: What CA Educators Need to Know 
Jan. 13, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Audience: K-12 Teachers, Instructional Coaches, Administrators 

Screening for Dyslexia: What School Leaders Need to Know
Feb. 23, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Audience: K-12 Teachers, Instructional Coaches, Administrators 

Implementing Intervention for Students with Dyslexia: What Teachers Need to Know
March 17, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Audience: K-12 Teachers, Instructional Coaches, Administrators 

Accommodating Students with Dyslexia in the Middle & High School Classroom: What Teachers Need to Know
April 14, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Audience: Middle School Teachers, High School Teachers, Secondary Administrators, Instructional Coaches

Assessing & Supporting Dyslexia: What School Psychologists Need to Know
May 12, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Audience: School Psychologists, Administrators, Instructional Coaches