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Mississippi Targets Dyslexic Students

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 26 May 2012 04:29pm | comments
Bryant signs dyslexia bill.

Starting this year, Mississippi educators will screen every kindergartner and first-grader for signs of dyslexia. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the reading disorder is one of the main-factors that eventually cause a student to drop out.

Dyslexia, the reading disorder that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols, could affect up to 1-in-5 Mississippians.

Joseph South, now 17, says his dyslexia greatly slowed his ability to learn to read.

"Homework that should have taken, in the first grade, 30 minutes, we would be in there two or three hours trying to complete a reading sheet. Seeing everyone else do that and you not being able to is like a mountain you can't climb," South said

South was diagnosed in the second grade, and after specialized education, was able to learn to ready properly.

A new set of laws that take effect July first are trying to help find and treat students like Joseph.

In addition to universal testing, students with dyslexia will be allowed to choose a school with a dyslexia therapist.

Canton Academy teacher Stephanie Powell, who teaches children with reading disorders, says early detection is key.

"When you do finally pinpoint it and the child is in maybe third or fourth grade and you have found it, their reading level is at kindergarten and you have to pull them all the way back. Once you find what is wrong with them and you can fix it and you know the path to fix it, it is like the light comes on," Powell said.

Governor Phil Bryant signed two dyslexia related the bills last week.

During the signing ceremony, Bryant talked about his own experience.

"I repeated the third grade. What a difficult horrible experience that was for a young child who has to repeat the third grade," Bryant said.

The second bill signed by the governor creates a scholarship for students who want to become dyslexia therapist

There are currently about 60 dyslexia therapist in the state....with another 80 in training....far fewer than educators say they need for Mississippi's 152 school districts.

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Bryant signs dyslexia bill.


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