A state task force submitted recommendations to Iowa lawmakers Monday aimed at improving instruction for students with dyslexia and other struggling readers. Five to 17 percent of the population is estimated to have dyslexia.
“Across Iowa, students with the characteristics of dyslexia, their families, and their teachers face many challenges, including lack of resources, lack of consistency in services across the state, and misinformation,” the task force report begins.
The task force is recommending that Iowa adopt specific policies related to dyslexia, partly by building on existing policies for struggling readers.
Katie Greving, a task force member and president of Decoding Dyslexia Iowa, said the group wants state education regulators to develop a dyslexia-specific teaching endorsement.
“And the task force chose this recommendation to address a systematic lack of expertise on dyslexia in Iowa,” Greving said. “And that’s probably the most important thing that we’re asking of the legislature.”
The task force also wants all Iowa teachers to complete a free online training course about dyslexia. And the task force wants to be made into a permanent state board to oversee the implementation of these recommendations.
Greving said the task force conducted a survey of parents, teachers, students and others to gather information about this issue.
“The major finding of the survey was that a lot of people who are responsible for helping to meet the needs of these kids don’t have the basic knowledge and skills that they need, and wanted more knowledge and skills,” Greving said. “We also found that there was a tremendous amount of inconsistency in how schools respond to students who are suspected of having dyslexia or who are diagnosed with it.”
The survey also found some parents with struggling readers in public schools are spending thousands of dollars on evaluations and tutoring, because they feel the schools aren’t offering enough assistance.
Greving points out the systematic reading instruction recommended to help students with dyslexia can help students struggling with reading for other reasons, too.
“So enacting the recommendations of the task force will really benefit all Iowa students,” Greving said.