Senate passes Zeiger bill to screen students for dyslexia

The state Senate today unanimously approved Sen. Hans Zeiger’s bill defining dyslexia as a learning disability and requiring early dyslexia screenings for elementary-school children.

Senate Bill 6162 would direct the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to determine which screening tools meet the developmental and academic criteria to indicate typical literacy development and dyslexia.

“We have not given our students with dyslexia the attention they deserve. Schools are not identifying dyslexia early enough, and we are not providing adequate reading interventions. We have heard from parents and students that the Legislature needs to act. We have a lot more work to do, but this is an important first step,” said Zeiger, R-Puyallup.

Zeiger decided to sponsor the bill after hearing from Sylvia Davison, a former teacher and long-time reading tutor from Puyallup. “Mrs. Davison really got my attention about the need for early screenings and appropriate interventions,” he said.

Davison had told the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee that Zeiger’s legislation would help to improve the reading rate of Washington students. Screenings will allow teachers and parents to “find out what each child’s needs are,” said Davison. “Some children have to learn differently, and this bill addresses that need.”

The bill would also reestablish a state advisory council to provide recommendations on programs for students with dyslexia.

SB 6162 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.