By Renee Foose and Ndeye Aminata Ndiaye, Special to the AFRO

The 2019 Maryland General Assembly passed the Ready to Read Act, a screening and early intervention bill that will help prevent reading failure in schools throughout the State. The bill now awaits Governor Larry Hogan’s signature.

The bill,  introduced by Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery) and Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery), will go into effect in 2020 and will require all 24 school systems in Maryland to provide screening to Kindergarten students to determine if they are at risk for reading difficulties. If  results indicate a student is at risk, supplemental reading instruction must be provided.

“This is the first phase, now we have to focus on implementation,”  said Winifred Winston, Co-Founder of Decoding Dyslexia Maryland.  “We are ready to work alongside jurisdictions throughout the state to help systems identify and support students with reading difficulties,” she said.

The bill also includes parent engagement, reporting requirements and funding through the Education Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (SB 1030).  “Research has identified which pre-reading skills are predictive of later reading difficulties,” said Dr. Nadine Gaab, Director of the Gaab Lab at the Harvard  Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital.  Young children can be screened for their likelihood of developing dyslexia or reading challenges and effective interventions can change their outcomes as well as improve the achievement of struggling readers and students with dyslexia,” she said.

Camilia Whitehead, co-founder of Decoding Dyslexia Maryland Baltimore City, is optimistic that

the new law will help children in Baltimore City.  “This is an exciting time for children in Baltimore

City where so many struggle to learn to read. Families of color, students with reading difficulties, and students who may not have strong literacy support at home  desperately need access to prevention. This bill is a step in that direction,” she said.