Nonprofit education organization Learning Ally is partnering with State Assemblyman Dan Benson to sponsor Assembly Bill 5601. This bill, which was introduced on May 5, 2021, directs the New Jersey Commissioner of Education to establish the New Jersey Equity in Education Initiative in an important step towards the mission of providing all students with equal and equitable access to education.

The New Jersey Equity and Literacy Initiative strives to enhance the statewide support system for county offices of education, school districts, and charter schools to connect students with specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, to innovative, university-based, early intervention services. According to Benson, “This legislation will help to improve literacy outcomes for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, and provide educators and schools with the resources to meet student learning needs.”

Assemblymember Benson demonstrates his commitment to dismantling barriers that prevent children from learning to read through championing this bill. “Students who struggle with reading and other forms of specific learning disabilities often go undiagnosed until they are failing in school. Some are never diagnosed nor receive services. Early identification and intervention with students showing signs of dyslexia are critical for improving their outcomes”.

Patrick Brennan, Learning Ally’s Vice President of Government Relations, explains, “By improving literacy outcomes for New Jersey’s early learners, we can empower, equip, and support our teaching force to ensure struggling learners become proficient readers.”

The most effective treatment for students who struggle with reading and related language problems is early diagnosis and skilled teaching. It is critical that educators receive evidence-based practices and strategies informed by research to reduce the impact on long-term educational outcomes. Assembly Bill 5601 aims to provide the necessary support and training to effectively equip teachers to help all students, regardless of background or disability.

Assemblymember Benson acknowledges the positive impact the Equity in Education Initiative could have on the state. “I look forward to seeing the investment this legislation will make in building capacity in New Jersey’s educational system to enhance all students’ reading and writing outcomes come to fruition.”

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