State Laws & Website

State Laws & Website

A few states have written legislation to require schools to address the instructional needs of students with dyslexia. They vary in approach as well as intensity and scope, so residents of each state should contact the central education agency for precise information. Texas was the first to adopt such a law, and provides an illustration of a relatively concise edict that is focused on the two major issues - identification of students and placement in effective intervention.

For additional information about your state click the "Search" button from your browser bar above, then type "(Your State) Department of Education," or "(Your State) Education Department." Either of these designations will take you to a list of State Education Department websites. Choose yours and find out about your states legislative issues.

Middle Tennessee State University (Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia) has developed an interactive map that allows you to click on a state capital and learn about various dyslexia initiatives taking place in the state. Click here to see the map.

The Texas State Dyslexia Law was originally written in 1985, and required each local school district to screen students for dyslexia, and to implement instructional intervention for students with characteristics of dyslexia. The Texas Education Agency was charged with the responsibility of writing guidelines to assist districts in interpretation of the law. The 74th Legislature included the law in Texas Education Code in 1995.

To download a complete copy of "THE DYSLEXIA HANDBOOK: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders", visit this TEA website and follow the instructions.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE (STATE LAW)

38.003. Screening and Treatment for Dyslexia and Related Disorders

  1. Students enrolling in public schools in this state shall be tested for dyslexia and related disorders at appropriate times in accordance with a program approved by the State Board of Education.

  2. In accordance with the program approved by the State Board of Education, the board of trustees of each school district shall provide for the treatment of any student determined to have dyslexia or a related disorder.

  3. The State Board of Education shall adopt any rules and standards necessary to administer this section.

  4. In this section:

    1. "Dyslexia" means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity.

    2. "Related disorders" includes disorders similar to or related to dyslexia, such as developmental auditory imperception, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th leg., ch. 260 1, eff. May 30, 1995.

In 1990, and again in 1996, the State Board of Education Rule spelled out the essential requirements of this law in the Texas Administrative Code. The Texas Education Agency revised the guidelines in 2001, and published them in a book titled, "THE DYSLEXIA HANDBOOK: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders." (This is available from the Publications Distribution Office, Texas Education Agency, P.O. Box 13817, Austin, Texas 78711-3817. Refer to Publication Number GE01 210 05.)

TEXAS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE
(STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION RULE)

74.28. Student with Dyslexia and Related Disorders.

  1. The board of trustees of a school district must ensure that procedures for identifying a student with dyslexia or a related disorder and for providing appropriate instructional services to the student are implemented in the district. These procedures will be monitored by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) with on-site visits conducted as appropriate.
  2. A school district's procedures must be implemented according to the State Board of Education (SBOE) approved strategies for screening, and techniques for treating, dyslexia and related disorders. The strategies and techniques are described in the "Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders," a set of flexible guidelines for local districts that may be modified by SBOE only with broad-based dialogue that includes input from educators and professionals in the field of reading and dyslexia and related disorders from across the state. Screening should only be done by individuals/professionals who are trained to assess students for dyslexia and related disorders.
  3. A school district may purchase a reading program or develop its own reading program for students with dyslexia and related disorders, as long as the program is characterized by the descriptors found in the "Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders." Teachers who screen and treat these students must be trained in instructional strategies which utilize individualized, intensive, multisensory, phonetic methods and a variety of writing and spelling components described in the "Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders" and in the professional development activities specified by each district and/or campus planning and decision making committee.
  4. Before an identification or assessment procedure is used selectively with an individual student, the school district must notify the student's parent or guardian or another person standing in parental relation to the student,
  5. Parents/guardians of students eligible under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 504, must be informed of all services and options available to the student under that federal statute.
  6. Each school must provide each identified student access at his or her campus to the services of a teacher trained in dyslexia and related disorders. The school district may, with the approval of each student's parents or guardians, offer additional services at a centralized location. Such centralized services shall not preclude that student from receiving services at his or her campus.
  7. Because early intervention is critical, a program for early identification, intervention and support for students with dyslexia and related disorders must be available in each district as outlined in the "Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders."
  8. Each school district may provide a parent education program for parents/guardians of students with dyslexia and related disorders. This program should include: awareness the of characteristics of dyslexia and related disorders; information on testing and diagnosis of dyslexia; information on effective strategies for teaching dyslexic students; and awareness of information on modification, especially modifications allowed on standardized testing.

To summarize the statements in the Texas Education Code, and the Texas Administrative Code, districts are required to follow TEA'S Revised Procedures concerning dyslexia and related disorders, including the State Board of Education Rule, by:

The Revised Procedures define and describe the procedure for identification of students, and the options for intervention. Appropriate interventions may include Remedial Strategies in the regular classroom or in a small group setting; a Dyslexia Instructional Program, especially designed for students with dyslexia; or Referral to Special Education for individualized planning of the student's total reading instruction.

Remedial Strategies in the regular classroom, in small groups such as Title I or Compensatory Programs are most often a good match for students whose reading problems are a result of environmental, sociological, or other causes rather than dyslexia.

If a student exhibits the characteristics of dyslexia, and they are confirmed through documentation of observation, records, and/or testing, he/she should be placed in a curriculum designed especially for students with dyslexia. This type of curriculum is described in some detail in the Revised Procedures. The descriptors are research-based, and should all be components of any curriculum which will be effective for students with dyslexia. It is appropriate to request that a school be asked to provide evidence that the curriculum offered for dyslexia meets all the descriptors. This might be in the form of a scope and sequence chart, or some other format that outlines specific concepts taught, as well as methodology, strategies, and techniques employed. A school or individual might even contact the author or publisher of a program to inquire for whom the program was originally and specifically intended. Most reading programs have a "target" population, and are not usually as effective when adjusted for another type of learner.

It is worth noting that the state law stipulates assessment and curriculum guidelines, but does not mention particular placement. Therefore, in looking for adequate services, the curriculum is the major consideration, and it might be delivered in regular or special education.

If the student qualifies for Special Education, this may not be the only placement necessary for him or her to receive effective reading instruction. If the Special Education Teacher is not trained as a Dyslexia Therapist (Certified Academic Language Therapist), or has not received training in a curriculum designed for dyslexia, the recommendation on the student's Individual Education Plan should be to place the student in the Dyslexia Program in Regular Education for primary reading instruction. In addition, Special Education might continue to plan and guide teachers in offering accommodations.

The State Laws are complemented by the Federal Laws to provide comprehensive instruction in reading for students with dyslexia. Therefore, wisdom dictates that they be seen as a total "package", and the way the laws interface is important to consider. One way to view their relationship is to know the major issues addressed by each one. For example, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act primarily addresses the needs of students with disabilities severe enough to require individually planned education by a specialist. So the major issue is placement through a qualifying process to receive specialized and individualized accommodations. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 stipulates instruction, accommodations, modifications, considerations, etc., necessary to prevent discrimination and to provide efficient and successful access to education content and activities. The major issues, then, are antidiscrimination and efficient access to educational programs. The Texas Dyslexia Law outlines procedures for identifying students and providing appropriate and effective reading instruction. Thus, it focuses upon research-based curriculum designed especially for students with dyslexia.

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