State Rep. Jim Wilson (R-Salida) received the 2019 Legislator Excellence Award Tuesday from Colorado Kids Identified with Dyslexia.
The award was presented by a group of mothers with dyslexic children who have created an advocacy group called Colorado Kids Identified with Dyslexia (COKID), which maintains a presence at the state Capitol, a press release stated.
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disorder involving the skills used in reading such as decoding letters, words and sounds.
Students with dyslexia also often experience difficulties with both oral language and writing skills, according to the International Dyslexia Association.
The recognition was based on efforts by Wilson and Rep. Janet Buckner (D-Aurora) toward the passage of HB 19-1134: Identification and Intervention for Students with Dyslexia.
The bill passed unanimously Tuesday in both the House and Senate (64-0 and 34-0, respectively).
HB 19-1134 marked the first time the challenges of dyslexic children had ever been addressed in state statute.
The act directs the commissioner of education to convene a working group to analyze state and national data and practices concerning identification and support of students with dyslexia.
From that data will come recommendations for dyslexia screening tools and processes, a statewide plan for identifying and supporting students with dyslexia and educator training in recognizing and providing interventions for students with dyslexia.
The act directs the Department of Education to establish a pilot program to assist school districts, boards of cooperative services and charter schools in using Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act assessments to screen for dyslexia and in providing interventions for students who are identified as having dyslexia.
For the 2019-20 state fiscal year, the act appropriates $106,196 from the general fund to the Department of Education to implement the act.
Wilson said there were two major reasons the bill was important, “First of all, dyslexic children had been overlooked for years.
“One of the children who testified was in special needs classes until she was properly diagnosed and received the help she needed, she said. She is now in a gifted and talented program,” Wilson said.
“The second reason I was passionate about this bill was the number of underserved dyslexic children,” he continued.
“The percentage estimates of dyslexic children in our schools range from 10 to 20 percent. The impact of improving 10 to 20 percent of our students’ test scores simply by improving services is huge,” Wilson said.