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DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Education has announced the members of a Dyslexia Task Force to help reach a state goal of having all students know how to read by the end of third grade.

Iowa Department of Education Deputy Director David Tilly said that everyone on the task force has some background involving dyslexia.

The task force was established as part of Senate File 2360 and will look into issues like student screening, interventions, teacher preparation and professional development, classroom accommodations, and assistive technology.

Tilly said children with dyslexia have a difficult time comprehending language.

“The vast majority of them are actually capable of learning to read at a basic proficient level if we provide the right instruction to them,” Tilly said.

Tilly said seven to 20 percent of students in Iowa schools suffer from the learning disability.

“Almost all kids with dyslexia can in fact learn how to read,” Tilly said.

The state of Iowa requires all public schools to screen students kindergarten through third grade to check their reading progress.

The task force is looking at that data collected from the schools over the last few years to help give teachers and parents guidance if a student falls behind.

Tilly said the task force hopes to find different treatment options for students to fit their individual need.

“Maybe I need advanced organizers prior to a lesson. Maybe if you can get me the vocabulary words that I am going to have to learn before the teacher teaches the lesson that has those vocabulary words in them. A lot of times there are strategies that we learn work for individuals and we can teach them, and then they can be in a position to advocate for themselves as they continue through their education career,” Tilly said.

The task force will meet frequently to discuss issues and find recommendations to take to the General Assembly. Scheduled meetings for this year include: October 3rd, October 10th, November 1st, November 30th and December 14th.

“If we put effective interventions in place and then we monitor their progress weekly, we can start seeing in about a six week period is the strategy we are putting in place, are the interventions we are putting in place, making a difference for that student,” Tilly said.

The task force’s recommendations are due to the General Assembly by November 15, 2019.

Members on the task force include:

  • Lonna Anderson, Great Prairie Area Education Agency
  • Helen Blitvich, Decoding Dyslexia Iowa
  • Amy Conrad, University of Iowa
  • Amy Dahlke, Decoding Dyslexia Iowa
  • Sue Etscheidt, University of Northern Iowa
  • Katie Greving, Decoding Dyslexia Iowa
  • Elizabeth Hoksbergen, Apples of Gold Center for Learning, Inc.
  • Erin Klopstad, Navada Community School District
  • Cindy Lewis, Pleasant Valley Community School District
  • Kristin Orton, Heartland Area Education Agency
  • Deborah Reed, Iowa Reading Research Center
  • Kim Schmidt, Odebolt Arthur Battle Creek Ida Grove Community School District
  • David Tilly, Iowa Department of Education