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State Superintendent Urges Lawmakers to Pass Reading Intervention Bills

Legislation Would Help Children with Dyslexia 

LANSING, MI – State Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Rice Tuesday strongly advocated for the Michigan Legislature to pass two bills that would help Michigan children with characteristics of dyslexia learn to read.

Dr. Rice made his remarks at Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting, the same day the House Education Committee heard additional testimony on the legislation. The legislature has been working on various iterations of the bills for over four years.

“As state superintendent, nothing is more important to me now than passing legislation to improve children’s literacy and support children with characteristics of dyslexia,” Dr. Rice said. “We have a special responsibility to do better in early literacy, which is so fundamental to success in all other aspects of school and, by extension, life as well. Our children deserve better, particularly those who process text differently.”

The legislation would strengthen the effectiveness of literacy instruction and intervention for Michigan students in elementary and secondary grades, MDE officials say. It also would provide educators with the skills needed to identify Michigan students with characteristics of dyslexia. 

Improving early literacy achievements is one of the goals in Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan.

Michigan Department of Education (MDE) officials appeared before the House Education Committee on June 5 to encourage legislators to approve Senate Bills 567 and 568. 

Together, beginning in the 2027-28 school year, the two Senate bills would: 

  • Require all students in kindergarten through third grade to be screened for characteristics of dyslexia three times per school year.
  • Require students in fourth through 12th grades who demonstrate certain behaviors to be screened for characteristics of dyslexia.
  • Require traditional school districts and charter schools to ensure that a reading intervention program was provided to any student flagged as showing characteristics of dyslexia on a screening assessment and provide intervention using a Multi-Tiered System of Supports network, which is a collection of research-based strategies designed to meet the individual needs of the whole child.
  • Require all literacy consultants, literacy coaches, and other staff providing reading intervention or instruction to receive professional learning that includes training on characteristics of dyslexia and instructional accommodations, among other things. 

“There have been various iterations of these bills for over four years,” said Dr. Sue Carnell, MDE chief deputy superintendent. “When we put that into perspective, it means that a child in kindergarten four years ago is transitioning into fifth grade next school year. Reading instruction, intervention, and teacher support, as outlined in these bills, could have helped many children who are still struggling to learn to read. While these bills may not be perfect—no bills are—they significantly improve how educators determine and address challenges many of our children face in learning to read.”

In August 2022, the department published “Michigan Dyslexia Handbook: A Guide to Accelerating Learner Outcomes in Literacy” to assist educators and school leaders to understand best practices to prevent reading difficulties associated with dyslexia and to intervene to assist children who exhibit characteristics of dyslexia. 

Student literacy data clearly demonstrate that more work must be done to improve reading levels and to support students in reaching their full potential. Senate Bills 567 and 568 will help screen students for characteristics of dyslexia and provide greater access to quality instruction and interventions. 

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