What’s the Latest on Universal Screening for Risk of Dyslexia?

Countless families, advocates, teachers and other professionals throughout California are feeling encouraged as universal screening for reading difficulties, including risk of dyslexia, has been included in Governor Newsom’s May Revision of the budget.


On May 12, Governor Newsom declared early literacy and dyslexia risk screening a top priority in the state of California by including annual kindergarten through second grade universal screening for reading difficulties, including risk of dyslexia, in his revised budget plan (May Revision).

After years of tenacious efforts to pass universal screening legislation, most recently as a co-sponsor of Senator Anthony Portantino’s Senate Bill 691 (SB 691), DDCA is thrilled with the Governor’s dedication to this critical literacy issue.

The May Revision and the trailer bill include details on the money the Governor has budgeted to ensure the appropriate screening tools are vetted by a panel of experts, as well as a timeline of universal screening implementation. To read the excerpts pertaining to K-2 annual screening in the Governor’s budget and proposed trailer bill, as originally introduced on May 12, please click here.

The next step towards universal screening becoming a reality is for the California Legislature to pass the May Revision. This process is more complicated than passing other bills. It involves a fiscal track for the “budget bill” followed by the policy track for the “trailer bill.”

In brief, the next steps as of June 2nd are:

  1. Fiscal Track – The Senate Budget Committee will consider this proposal as part of adopting the Senate’s proposed budget.
  2. Fiscal Track – The Assembly and Senate may meet in “conference committee” to resolve any remaining differences between the two houses’ budget plans.
  3. Fiscal Track – The budget bill must be approved by both the Senate and Assembly by June 15th and signed by the Governor by June 30th.
  4. Policy Track – The trailer bill, which will include the implementation language, is not subject to the same deadlines. Often trailer bills are passed right after the budget bill, or before summer recess (July 14th), but trailer bills may be passed any time before the legislative session convenes on September 15th. Trailer bill language will appear in an official bill once the Senate, Assembly, and Governor’s Office agree on the language. The trailer bill must be approved by the Budget Committees of both the Senate and the Assembly, voted for approval on the Floor of both houses, and signed by the Governor by October 14th. 

In summary, the fiscal track must be completed by June 30th and the policy track must be completed on or before October 14th.

We are encouraged that K-2 universal screening has the support of Governor Newsom and hope you will follow the budget and trailer bills’ journeys with us. DDCA would like to especially acknowledge Senator Portantino for his tenacity and continuous advocacy on this important issue. In addition, special thanks to EdVoice, California State PTA, and the over 50 supporting organizations that have demonstrated their support through letters, phone calls and public comments at various legislative hearings.

We will keep you posted on further developments and let you know if there is a need for action. Be sure to read EdSource’s May 12 article on universal screening being added to the May Revision, and please encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up for DDCA’s emails.