State Board of Education Approves Mandatory Literacy Screening to Detect Learning Disabilities

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In an attempt to detect learning disabilities early, all Massachusetts school districts Students should now be assessed twice a year for their progress in reading and literacy.

Elementary and Secondary Education Committee On Tuesday, it unanimously approved a mandatory literacy screening for kindergarten through at least third grade. The mandate will enter into force in July next year.

At a meeting Tuesday, State Education Secretary James Peyser said a universal screening process would not prevent immediate assessment of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, but could work to catch problems early. explained.

Screening will allow schools to offer struggling young readers an intervention in the general classroom without the need for a special education referral, Peyser said. You’ll be able to more quickly identify the students you need to ensure they receive the services they need.

“In fact, if this works, I think it could actually lead to fewer, faster, and cheaper special education referrals,” said Peyser. “I think it will support not only these students, but ultimately all students who are trying to learn how to read.”

through the new In accordance with the regulations, schools must also develop plans to support students who: Significantly below the relevant benchmarks of typical developmental and literacy for age, the student’s parents or guardians must be notified within 30 days of screening results.

Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Superintendents of Schools, said the order raised the expectation that “early literacy is very important and a key factor in a student’s subsequent success in school.” said to increase.

“This is a desire to do everything reasonably possible at a critical time to identify students who may need intervention or support, and that’s what we really want here.” think.” Scott said. “From a literacy standpoint, I think it’s an attempt to do everything reasonably possible to catch kids at a young age level.”

Early literacy screening was common in Massachusetts Elementary schools; approximately 300 public school districts in Massachusetts use state-approved screening tools to help detect learning disabilities. However, according to board materials provided to members by department staff, some school districts appeared to be using outdated screeners or no adequate screening tools at all.

At Tuesday’s meeting, education leaders said there is no metric to compare schools with screening to districts that don’t, but the rule will give departments an opportunity to see how that changes. I believe in providing

“For example, there are some efforts underway to understand which districts are using quality materials, and that will be part of the equation,” said Deputy Commissioner Russell Johnston. “School districts can also think about what’s working and what’s not, and see what changes are needed for their students.”

The state has awarded over $471,955 in grants to 27 school districts in the past 18 months to support the purchase of initial literacy screening assessments. We plan to offer similar grants for the current academic year. Schools that do not yet have adequate screening measures in place or need training, according to board documents.


Adria Watson can be reached at adria.watson@globe.com. follow her on her twitter @adria watson.

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