Successful Legislative Efforts
In the 2015 legislative session, the Arizona Literacy Coalition drove a successful effort to provide greater support for students with reading impairments, including dyslexia.
SB 1461 was signed into law on March 26, 2015.
The new law contains 3 features:
(1) Definition of "dyslexia." The language is as follows: "'Dyslexia' means a brain-based learning difference that impairs a person's ability to read and spell, that is independent of intelligence and that typically causes a person to read at levels lower than expected." The presence of this definition alone will help clarify some of the misconceptions about this relatively common but misunderstood condition.
(2) Provision allowing Arizona teachers and administrators to receive continuing education credit for training in reading impairments and dyslexia. The training may be related to screening, intervention, accommodations, the use of technology, and advocacy. Until our universities begin to address dyslexia as part of teacher training, opportunities and incentives for professional development like those created by this bill are critical to meeting the learning needs of the many students with reading challenges.
(3) Exemption to Arizona's "third grade retention" law for students with reading impairments, including dyslexia. Under Arizona's "Move on When Reading" law, some students who receive low scores on statewide reading assessments may be required to repeat the third grade, unless they fall into certain exceptions. Students with dyslexia often did not fall within the other exceptions in the law.