Schoolteacher Helping Boy

READ Act Signed by President, Means $5M Annually for LD Research

Written by NCLD Public Policy & Advocacy Team | February 22, 2016

Advocacy works, and the READ Act is proof.

During last summer’s Dyslexia Hill Day and then again in September, parents and advocates gathered in Washington, DC to support the introduction of the Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act (READ Act) by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Julia Brownley (D-CA).

Just last week, only six months after the bill was first introduced, President Obama signed the READ Act Into law.

With dedicated leaders in Congress and an engaged community of advocates behind it, this bill quickly made its way from the House floor to the President’s desk. Introduced by Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Julia Brownley (D-CA), co-chairs of the House Dyslexia Caucus, and supported by Senator Cassidy (R-LA), the READ Act gained bipartisan support in both chambers.

Under the READ Act, the National Science Foundation (NSF) must devote $5 million every year to research on the science of learning disabilities, including dyslexia. Of the $5 million, at least $2.5 million per year must be awarded for research focusing specifically on dyslexia. The law includes some examples of the types of research that may be conducted under this award. They include:

• early identification of children and students with dyslexia;
• professional development for teachers and administrators of students with dyslexia;
• curricula and educational tools needed for children with dyslexia; and
• implementation and scaling of successful models of dyslexia intervention.

Even though 1 in 5 students struggle with learning and attention issues, only 1 in 20 are formally identified and receiving services under IDEA. Early identification of these issues and providing swift supports and interventions can make a tremendous difference for students who are struggling.

Increased research in these areas is an important first step to providing all students with LD with the supports and services they need. An additional $5 million in research by NSF will mean more teachers will receive the evidence-based professional development they need to identify challenges early and provide the right supports and instruction for students with dyslexia and other LDs.

Jim Wendorf, NCLD’s Executive Director, praised this new law by stating, “The passage of the READ Act is a testament to committed advocates and strong, effective partnerships in the LD community. Members of Congress worked together, disability organizations collaborated, and parent advocates united to secure this increase in research funding. Because of it, more teachers will have the resources and training to support students with LD – such as dyslexia – in our nation’s classrooms.”

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