National Center for Learning Disabilities Executive Director Emeritus James H. Wendorf issued the following statement applauding a new Comprehensive Literacy Center in the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, while expressing significant concerns about the lack of accountability in the bill, which passed the U.S. Senate on July 16, 2015.
“The National Center for Learning Disabilities, which works on behalf of the 1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues and their families, applauds the creation of a new Comprehensive Literacy Center proposed in the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.
As the first-of-its-kind, this Comprehensive Literacy Center would focus on children who are at-risk of not attaining full literacy skills due to a disabilty, such as dyslexia or disabilities related to reading, writing, language processing, comprehension, or executive functioning. The creation of the Center would come at a critical juncture as the achievement gap between students with and without disabilities persists.
NCLD commends Senator Bill Cassidy, MD whose relentless commitment and leadership on this issue– with the support of Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray – will better equip families and educators to meet the needs of children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities if it is enacted into law. The Comprehensive Literacy Center would focus on five areas:
- Tools to identify challenges early;
- Evidence-based literacy instruction, strategies, accommodations and assistive technology;
- Information to support families;
- Professional development for teachers on early indicators and instructional strategies; and
- Broad dissemination within existing federal networks.
Reading is a fundamental skill that is often hard to acquire and master for children with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, but early recognition of learning challenges combined with timely, effective evidence-based services are critical to support student success. This Center takes a pro-active approach to bridging decades worth of research with the educator and parent communities who can benefit most from its findings.
While this new center has the potential to impact millions of children with learning and attention issues, this very progress is undermined by the lax approach to accountability included in the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. The provisions holding states and schools accountable for educating students with learning and attention issues must be strengthened if this bill is to become law. Parents expect that the educational system will step in and provide leadership when entire schools and groups of students – such as students with disabilities – aren’t succeeding.
NCLD will continue to advocate for the Comprehensive Literacy Center and stronger accountability provisions as the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 continues its way through the legislative process.”