At a Tuesday afternoon hearing of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, Senator Craig Zucker (District 14 – Montgomery County) presented legislation requiring county school systems to test Maryland students to gauge their risk for reading difficulties.
Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, Senate Bill 734 (the Ready to Read Act) would engage local school boards to ensure that Maryland students receive the appropriate diagnostic and hearing/medical tests necessary to promote their success in reading and language skills. According to fiscal analysis of the legislation from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services: “The bill specifies the best practices, lists of screening and informal diagnostic instruments, supplemental reading instruction programs, and other information that the State reading and dyslexia handbook required to be developed and updated every two years must include.”
Noting a personal story of hearing difficulties that he experienced as a child, Zucker noted the significance of the legislation and the necessity of screenings to ensure positive educational outcomes. In his testimony, Zucker stated: “(This is) A bill right for this moment.” He followed: “We want to make sure that if they (children) have learning differences that it’s flagged and also if it’s just linguistic differences that we can address that as well.”
Senator Zucker is joined in bipartisan sponsorship of the legislation by nine colleagues including Senators Feldman (District 15 – Montgomery), Ferguson (District 46 – Baltimore City), Guzzone (District 13 – Howard), Hershey (District 36 – Kent, Queen Anne’s, Cecil, and Caroline), Lam (District 12 – Baltimore and Howard Counties), Lee (District 16 – Montgomery), Nathan-Pulliam (District 44 – Baltimore City and County), Rosapepe (District 21 – Prince George’s and Anne Arundel), and West (District 42 – Baltimore County).
Senate Bill 734 is cross-filed with House Bill 690 (sponsored by Delegate Eric Leudtke) and was heard before the House Ways and Means Committee on February 21st. Both bills now await action by their respective committees of origin. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.