Bill in SC Senate would screen all K-2 students for dyslexia

SOUTH CAROLINA (WCBD) - Dyslexia is a learning disability which impacts about 20% of people. It makes language skills, especially reading, difficult.

Carrie McCormick and Lindsey Ballenger both have daughters with dyslexia. They say teachers in local schools are not well trained to identify the learning disability.

McCormick says, “It’s my biggest regret, that I trusted their knowledge, or lack of knowledge, of dyslexia over my own instincts and I wish we had had her tested formally sooner.”

Both girls weren’t diagnosed until second and third grade, which means they had already fallen behind their classmates.

Ballenger says, “When she started the second grade she was still reading at a kindergarten level and there was a lot of frustration, a lot of anxiety.”

Parents say part of the problem is once kids are diagnosed with dyslexia, the methods for teaching don’t change.

McCormick says, “It was just, ‘Lets repeat the sight word’, ‘Lets go over and over’, but there was never any real instruction on learning the word. It’s just ineffective. It’s not working.”

A bill in the state Senate would change that.

If passed, the bill would screen children for dyslexia from kindergarten through second grade and implement instruction methods to help students with dyslexia.

Ballenger says, “What I have seen with one of my children is that with just six months of the right type of intervention, she’s almost reading at grade level.”

WJBF's sister station News 2 reached out to the Charleston County School District to find out how they plan to improve resources for kids with dyslexia.

The statement from Cindy Ambrose, Deputy Superintendent of Learning Services, says:

“Charleston County School District is monitoring this legislation; however, regardless of the outcome, we are committed to providing a comprehensive approach in order to meet the needs of students with dyslexia. We are developing a proposed course of action to ensure that our current procedures are aligned to state requirements and best practices outlined by the International Dyslexia Association.

CCSD is developing and refining a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework to support the needs of all students.  The MTSS framework begins with core instruction that is strong in foundations of literacy and differentiated to meet the needs of all types of learners. Universal screenings are critically important to identify potential learning problems early. A task force is currently reviewing our approach to universal screening in anticipation of the house bill, specifically to make sure that our universal screener includes phonological and phonemic awareness, sound symbol recognition, alphabetic knowledge, decoding and encoding skills, and rapid naming skills, which are markers for dyslexia.

Literacy teams at every school will analyze screening data and identify interventions matched to student need. The district is currently pursuing additional opportunities for teachers to receive professional development.”


The bill is scheduled to go through the Senate’s K-12 subcommittee Wednesday.


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