top of page

SB 237 (Portantino)

SB 237 will help eliminate inequities of opportunity that thousands of students face by establishing a statewide policy of universal screening of K-2 students for risk of dyslexia. Without universal screening in every school district, only those students with sufficient resources and advocacy on their behalf will be identified as being at risk for dyslexia and receive the appropriate instruction and support they need to reach their full potential.

Without identification and support, students at risk for dyslexia are less likely to graduate high school and attend college, land the jobs they want, and face a greater risk of incarceration. In some prisons today, nearly 80% of the inmates are illiterate, and almost one-half of these are on the dyslexia spectrum. 


EdVoice recently commissioned a survey of over 4,200 registered California voters and found that 87% of voters favor universal screening for risk of dyslexia. The findings were nearly unanimous for all categories of voters and underscore overwhelming support for a statewide policy to ensure all students are screened and receive appropriate help to learn how to read.

SB 237 clearly places literacy for all students as a top priority of a more equitable education system. Currently, hundreds of thousands of at-promise students fall through the cracks. By screening all students for risk of dyslexia early, California can help families and teachers better understand their students’ learning challenges and provide early help to ensure each child can achieve their full potential, help close long standing academic achievement gaps and the school-to-prison pipeline.


What does universal screening mean?

Universal Screening consists of brief tests of discrete skills, administered to all students in kindergarten through grade two, to determine risk for dyslexia, and the need for early intervention.


Do SB 237 screening tools diagnose dyslexia?

Universal screening does not “diagnose” children as having dyslexia, rather it would identify children who are "at risk" for dyslexia. This screening provides educators information early in the school year about which children are likely to encounter difficulty learning to read and in need of targeted support, and parents with information about their child’s challenges and how to get additional help.


Is this considered a formal evaluation for eligibility for special education and related services?

No, federal law clarifies that screening of a student by a teacher or specialist to determine appropriate instructional strategies for curriculum implementation shall not be considered to be a formal evaluation for eligibility for special education and related services.



What are the consequences of not screening early?

Students at risk of dyslexia can become great readers and become very successful throughout their lives. But without early identification and support, students at risk for dyslexia are less likely to graduate high school and attend college and face a greater risk of incarceration. The repeated failure they often experience before receiving intervention contributes to anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, which students with dyslexia experience two to five times more than their peers


How does universal screening support the needs of English Learners?

Although dyslexia is found in all student populations and in people within all cultures and languages, English learners are often identified as having dyslexia much later, if ever, in comparison to their peers. Identifying the needs of English learners early ensures they get the help they need in reading and literacy as well as access to the core academic content. With culturally and linguistically responsive screening tools and practices, English learners can accurately be identified and receive the early intervention they deserve.


Will screening every student take up a lot of instructional time?

No, most screeners can be completed in less than twenty minutes. In addition, the proposed bill requires screening in K-2 only once a year within 90 calendar days from the start of instruction for the school year.


Take a moment to urge the California legislature to vote YES on SB 237 and provide students, parents and teachers with timely information they need to ensure every child has an equitable opportunity to succeed!

Specifically, SB 237 would:

  • Require the State develop an approved list of culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate screening tools to be used by schools to screen for risk of dyslexia.

  • Require all schools to screen students for risk of dyslexia in each of the grades K-2, inclusive.

  • Require results to be made available to teachers and parents in a timely fashion in order to better understand students’ challenges and adapt accordingly.

  • Allow parent(s)/guardian(s) to opt-out their child out of the screening.

bottom of page