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News Update

Dyslexia bill advances in state Senate committee

Over the objections of the state’s largest teachers union and English learner advocates, a bill requiring schools to screen K-2 students for dyslexia unanimously passed the state Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 691, which now advances to the Senate Appropriations Committee, would require schools to identify children at risk for dyslexia, a reading disorder that affects up to 20% of the population, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and the bill’s author, Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank.

The California Teachers Association and two groups that advocate for English learners opposed the bill at Wednesday’s hearing, saying it would be overly burdensome for teachers and would misidentify too many English learners, funneling them into special education unnecessarily.

Portantino said that the implementation details can be worked out later and that the screening test would be linguistically and culturally tailored to students based on their native language.

“The neuroscience tells us that if we help a young child earlier in their journey, then we’re going to be more successful,” he said. “If we wait, it becomes four times more difficult, and the problem becomes harder to solve.”

Portantino introduced a similar bill last year, but it died in the Assembly Education Committee.