Under a bill passed during the final day of its 2017 session, Virginia school districts would be required to have reading specialists trained in helping students with dyslexia.

A recent bill passed by the General Assembly in Virginia will require school districts hiring reading specialists to ensure they are trained in helping students with dyslexia. More specifically, if a local school board employs reading specialists, at least one must have expertise in teaching and helping students with dyslexia or related disorders. The Virginia Senate and House voted unanimously for this bill, showing widespread support and understanding for students with dyslexia. Most school divisions hire reading specialists even though they are not required to do so, which makes this bill all the more impactful.

Experts say that approximately 1 in 10 children have dyslexia. Due to such a large statistic, it is beneficial to have appropriate help from reading specialists within the school systems. Although the common misconception is that students with dyslexia lack intelligence, they are in fact often very bright but struggle to read and spell words. Dyslexia exists along a continuum of severity, so students can require a different level of support. Key to intervention is explicit, systematic instruction and guidance in a multi-sensory way (i.e., Structured Literacy). in order to make progress with reading and spelling, it will benefit students greatly to have trained specialists working alongside them in their classrooms.

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