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Gov. Kemp signs bill to begin screening students for dyslexia

Charlton County student attends signing ceremony with Gov. Brian Kemp

Gov. Brian Kemp signs bill
Gov. Brian Kemp signs bill (From Decoding Dyslexia Facebook group)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – All Georgia public school teachers will receive specific training on teaching dyslexic students after Gov. Brian Kemp signed new legislation on Thursday. 

Under the bill passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Georgia Legislature, within five years, all elementary schools must test every kindergartner for dyslexia.

Senate Bill 48 instructs the State Board of Education to develop a policy of dyslexia screening for all kindergarten students, referral for students with identified dyslexia characteristics in grades one to three and screening for those who did not attend kindergarten or were not screened in kindergarten.

The Georgia Department of Education would require all schools to submit data to the state regarding students with dyslexia. This bill also calls for the Professional Standards Commission to create a dyslexia endorsement for teachers and include information regarding dyslexia in teacher preparation programs.

The bill was won support with pushed by emotional testimony from children who described public schools lacking both skill and empathy when confronted with the students' inability to read.

Folkston Elementary School student Gabe Huling and his mother, Charlton County High School teacher Katy Ruth Huling, attended Thursday's signing ceremony, held at Wheeler High School in Cobb County.

Experts estimate that 10% to 20% of the population has dyslexia, which would translate to at least 180,000 Georgia students.

Currently, only 1 in 3 Georgia fourth-graders scored “proficient” on national reading tests.

For more information about the bill or the efforts to help dyslexic students, visit Decoding Dyslexia.

About the Authors:

Created WJXT.com in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website ever since.

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.