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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
October 4, 2023

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Applications Invited for Appointment to the Reading Difficulties Risk Screener Selection Panel

The State Board of Education (SBE) is currently seeking applicants to fill up to nine positions for independent experts to serve on the Reading Difficulties Risk Screener Selection Panel (RDRSSP). By December 31, 2024, the RDRSSP will create an approved list of evidence-based, culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate screening instruments for students in kindergarten and grades one and two (K–2) to assess pupils for risk of reading difficulties, including possible neurological disorders such as dyslexia, in languages reflecting those spoken by California’s students.

Applicants should provide evidence of demonstrated experience in at least one of the following areas:

  • Creating, evaluating, administering, interpreting, and/or otherwise working with screening instruments for kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) and/or early education. This could include screening instruments in English and/or in languages other than English.
  • Providing instruction for, evaluating, providing supportive services to, or in any other way working with any of the following groups:
    • Students with disabilities, especially disabilities that impede literacy
    • Students who are multilingual and/or identified English learners
    • Students in early elementary grades (K–2)
  • Instructional and/or administrative experience in either K–12 or early education using student data to design individualized or systemic instructional plans and/or interventions. This could include communicating individual student information, especially screening and/or assessment information, with parents or guardians, including in languages other than English.

It is not necessary for any one individual to have knowledge and experience in all the areas above in order to be eligible to serve on the RDRSSP. However, state law prohibits the appointment of any person to the RDRSSP with a financial interest in the screening instruments under consideration. As such, all applicants will be expected to disclose financial interests in any entity that may submit a screening instrument to the panel for review.

The SBE is statutorily required to appoint members to the RDRSSP by January 31, 2024.

Background

Section 83 of the 2023 Education Omnibus Budget Trailer Bill (Chapter 48, Statutes of 2023) established a requirement for local educational agencies, beginning with the 2025–26 school year, to assess each of their students in K–2 for risk of reading difficulties using a screening instrument or instruments identified by the RDRSSP.

The law requires the SBE to adopt a review process for the RDRSSP to use to evaluate screening instruments so that the RDRSSP can approve a list of screening instruments by December 31, 2024, based on the following criteria:

  • Use of direct measurement, supplemented by other pupil data, to determine if a pupil is at risk of a reading difficulty, including dyslexia.
  • Measurement of domains that may predict dyslexia and other reading disorders, including, but not limited to, measures of oral language, phonological and phonemic awareness, decoding skills, letter-sound knowledge, knowledge of letter names, rapid automatized naming, visual attention, reading fluency, vocabulary, and language comprehension.
  • Evidence that the tool is normed and validated using a contemporary multicultural and multilanguage sample of pupils, with outcome data for pupils whose home language is a language other than English as well as those who are native English speakers.
  • Integration of relevant pupil demographic information, such as home language, English language fluency, and access to prekindergarten education, to more fully understand a pupil’s performance.
  • Guidance and resources for educators regarding how to administer screening instruments, interpret results, explain results to families, including in pupils’ primary languages, and determine further educational strategies, assessments, diagnostics, and interventions that should be considered and that are specific to each type of pupil result. Guidance and resources provided shall be informed by the English Language Arts/English Language Development Framework for California Public Schools developed pursuant to Education Code Section 60207 and the California Dyslexia Guidelines developed pursuant to Education Code Section 56335, as well as knowledge of effective interventions for the specific needs of individual pupils, and shall reflect a tiered interventions model aligned with the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.

The law requires that the results of the screenings be used by local educational agencies as part of a broader process that further evaluates pupil needs and progress, identifies supports for classroom instruction, enables targeted individual intervention as needed, and allows for further diagnosis. Statute specifies that screening instruments identified by the RDRSSP are: (1) not considered an evaluation or diagnostic tool to establish eligibility for special education and related services, and (2) must be appropriate for students in multiple languages. Alternative protocols are established for students for whom a screening instrument does not exist in a language in which the student is fluent.

Finally, the work of the RDRSSP will be subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (Article 9 [commencing with Section 11120] of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code).

Purpose

The purpose of this RDRSSP is to create an approved list of evidence-based, culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate screening instruments for pupils in K–2 to assess pupils for risk of reading difficulties, including possible neurological disorders such as dyslexia, pursuant to the requirements of Education Code Section 53008 External link opens in new window or tab..

Term

Panel members will serve for a term of up to two years. However, the term for the panel members may be extended as necessary, including for the purposes of updating the review process and/or amending the list of approved screening instruments.

Frequency of Meetings

Regular meetings of the panel will be held as needed, but likely on a monthly basis. State law requires the panel to identify screening instruments for use by local educational agencies by no later than December 31, 2024. However, after December 31, 2024, the panel may be required to attend occasional meetings to, among other things, amend the list of approved screening instruments.

Panel members should expect to attend meetings in person once per month or more, which may require travel, and engage in preparatory reading and other supplementary activities between meetings.

Travel Expenses

Panel members are eligible to be reimbursed for allowable travel expenses and per diem to attend panel meetings only. All applicable state travel expenses are reimbursed in accordance with the policies found within the California Code of Regulations, Title 2 External link opens in new window or tab..

Application Deadline

The application can be found at the SBE Application Information web page.

All applications received by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2023, will be considered by the SBE Screening Committee for appointment at the January 2024 State Board of Education meeting.

Completed applications may be submitted via email at: sbe@sbe.ca.gov. A single PDF of the application that includes a résumé and three letters of recommendation is preferred.

Finalist candidates may be asked to participate in a 30-minute Zoom interview, which will be scheduled for one day during the last week of November or the first week of December.

Questions

If you have any questions about the application process or the role and responsibility of the RDRSSP, please email sbe@sbe.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 5, 2023

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