The Reading Early and Addressing Dyslexia (READ) Act (HR 6051) authorizes a pilot program to screen students for dyslexia and other reading difficulties and implement interventions for literacy education. To fund this program, the United States Department of Education will award grants to five states for up to $500,000 per year for three consecutive school years.
The READ Act requires the Department of Education (DOE) to identify appropriate methods to screen for reading difficulties and intervene in evidence-based ways. Interventions will target students in kindergarten through third grade, and will include instruction in the sounds of words and symbols; translation from printed words to speech; translation from speech to printed words; and quick recognition of common objects, colors, letters, and numbers. This bill also requires the DOE to identify methods to aid teachers in recognizing early reading difficulties and implementing the chosen interventions.
When choosing which states will receive the grants, priority will be given to states that span a diverse range of locations and student demographics. Each state will choose at least two school districts, each of which must have at least 3,000 students and offer full-day kindergarten, in which to implement the pilot program. States must ensure that the chosen school districts screen students in kindergarten through third grade for reading difficulties three times per year. They must also ensure that, for students suspected of having an early reading problem or dyslexia, school districts notify the students’ guardians and provide the chosen interventions with the guardians’ permission. States must submit a report to the DOE at the end of each year of the pilot program.
The pilot program must be enacted within one year of the bill become law. After the initial three-years, the pilot program will be evaluated based on the educational outcomes of the identified students. By January 1, 2024, an online platform will be made available to help states use the findings of the pilot program to help students who have reading deficiencies.
Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by difficulties in spelling and recognizing written words. It is thought to be a result of trouble processing how words sound when spoken aloud. These difficulties may lead to problems with reading comprehension and vocabulary growth. Dyslexia affects up to 10% of people, and can increase school drop-out rates and contribute to difficulties in the workplace.
In 2014, Pennsylvania established a pilot program to screen kindergarten students for reading difficulties, such as dyslexia, and provide appropriate instructional intervention. An additional 20 states have implemented screening programs or task forces for dyslexia and early literacy. According to the READ Act, this bill represents an effort to expand educational opportunities and literacy skills for all children in the United States.