HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Ed Neilson’s legislation (H.B. 198) that would create a pilot program to provide evidence-based early screening and other intervention services for children with risk factors of dyslexia unanimously passed the House today and is headed to the governor’s desk.
House Bill 198 would establish the Dyslexia and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program in at least three Pennsylvania school districts.
“I am thankful that we can finally start providing children with dyslexia the resources they need to thrive,” Neilson said. “I am confident that this pilot program will lead to a permanent program that will improve special education all over Pennsylvania.”
Sen. Sean Wiley, D-Erie, who introduced a companion bill in the Senate, said he was grateful to his colleagues for their support and for their compassionate understanding of a difficult learning disability.
“There is absolutely no reason that a child should struggle through school because of an undiagnosed learning disability,” Wiley said. “It is imperative that we provide the proper tools for our schools to ensure our children are able to perform to their full potential.”
Dyslexia, also known as developmental reading disorder, is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols. It is believed that 15 to 20 percent of the U.S. population displays at least some symptoms of dyslexia, although it often goes undiagnosed for years and sometimes is not formally recognized until adulthood, if ever.
Three years after implementation of the pilot program, the state Secretary of Education would submit an evaluation of the pilot program to the General Assembly containing recommendations to continue, expand or make changes to the program. The Pennsylvanian Department of Education would also determine whether programs of this type have the potential to reduce future special education costs in the state.
“This program will allow our schools to identify children in need of extra assistance and attention and will ensure that these children are exposed to therapies that have been proven as effective,” Neilson said. “This bill also will provide us with a model for other efforts to reform our school system to provide better outcomes at a lower cost.”
Media contacts: Charlie Vaihinger (Rep. Neilson), 717-787-7895; Kim Plyler (Sen. Wiley), 814-453-2515