CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to improve educational opportunities for students with dyslexia in Illinois. The law identifies dyslexia as a learning disability and establishes an advisory board to develop teacher and school administrator training for teaching students with dyslexia. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to give every child the opportunity for a high quality education.
“Many people throughout history have achieved greatness in spite of the challenges they faced with dyslexia,” Governor Quinn said. “Everyone learns in a different way, and we want to make sure that every child has an opportunity for success and receives the quality education they deserve. This law will help students across the state get what they need in order to succeed in the classroom.”
House Bill 3700, sponsored by State Representative JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch) and State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), recognizes the international definition of dyslexia as a learning disability and includes those with dyslexia among students who are entitled to special education services.
The law also establishes a reading instruction advisory group to train professional educators on how to recognize and effectively teach children with dyslexia. The advisory group will operate for one year, but its recommendations and developments will continue thereafter. The law is in response to concerns that local school districts were not able to recognize or instruct dyslexic children. The legislation is effective immediately.
“Dyslexic students can quickly fall behind because teachers cannot identify their disability or do not have learning materials adapted to their needs,” Senator Bush said. “It is important that we implement the same level of awareness and services for this group of learning disabled students as we do for all other groups.”
Governor Quinn has long been a supporter of equal educational opportunities in Illinois. He signed a law that lowers the compulsory age for school attendance from seven years old to six years of age to ensure that Illinois’ children are getting a jump start on learning and a lifetime of success. Illinois is the first state in the country to support academic success for all students by requiring bilingual education programs for English Language Learners, beginning in preschool.
Illinois won nearly $54 million in the federal Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge to raise the quality of all early childhood programs and to ensure that children have access to high quality early learning experiences. As part of the award, the state launched ExceleRate Illinois, a comprehensive early care and education quality rating and improvement system, which helps families to identify early childhood programs that best meet the needs of their children. The Governor also signed legislation in 2013 to help student athletes with disabilities by allowing school districts to excuse athletes with disabilities from physical education classes.