Dyslexia…er…Early Literacy Screening Regulations Update

Who knew reading screening would be so popular? BESE approved an amendment to special education regulations to require early literacy screening and identify follow up supports for students.

The September Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting was a short one with some quick approvals of several regulatory changes. In the mix was the proposed regulation related to literacy screening and follow up assessments with parental notification. Building on the 2018 Dyslexia statute and the publication of the 2021 Dyslexia Guidelines, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education received 70 public comments on one paragraph of text.

DESE did make a few adjustments to the 127-word original language. 26 changes to be precise:

With the approval of the revised language at BESE, districts have another school year to update their systems and assessment tools. Just in time, DESE announced another round of the Growing Literacy Across Massachusetts (GLEAM) Grant program that may help fund districts in purchasing new materials and professional learning for educators.

From our original post:

Public comments are due on August 19 on a proposed regulation which will require schools to assess each student’s reading ability from kindergarten through third grade at least twice per year.

The proposed language will implement a screening process mentioned in the 2021 Dyslexia Guidelines. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to open a period of public comment at the June 2022 meeting.

The Dyslexia Guidelines wade into the the Great Reading Wars (phonics! whole language! balanced literacy!) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been incentivizing districts to adopt “approved” reading assessments as part of the Massachusetts Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS).

The proposed amendment will add one paragraph to 603 CMR 28.03:

(f) Dyslexia Screening.  Each elementary school shall at least twice per year assess each student’s reading ability and progress in specific foundational skills, from kindergarten through at least third grade, using a valid, developmentally appropriate screening instrument approved by the Department.  If such screenings determine that a student is significantly behind relevant benchmarks for age-typical development in specific foundational skills, then the school must complete a further assessment within 30 days to determine whether the school should provide such student with modified, differentiated, or supplementary evidence-based reading instruction aligned with the Department’s literacy guidelines or refer the student for evaluation for a specific learning disability.  The school shall promptly inform each student’s parent or guardian of the results of such assessments and prior to any evaluation referral.

Public comments are due on August 19, 2022 to:

Jamie Camacho, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148
by fax to: 781-338-3371 b
y e-mail to: specialeducation@doe.mass.edu .

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