Many states have passed dyslexia laws in order to identify and help students with dyslexia. The goal of these legislative changes is to regulate early screenings, professional development, and early intervention.
Why are states passing specific dyslexia laws when the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) already exists?
Under the IDEA students are eligible for special education in order to receive equal and appropriate instruction. One condition listed under IDEA is specific learning disability (SLD), and it is in this section that dyslexia is listed. However, IDEA does not specifically define dyslexia or tell states how to address it. As a result, special education services provided to kids with dyslexia can vary greatly from district to district in the same state. State laws aim to provide more detail than IDEA, so a student with dyslexia will have the same level of support no matter which school they attend.
The implementation of IDEA was a game changer and it has been vital for leveling the playing field for many students. That beings said, since its conception, researchers have learned more about dyslexia. An example of a new-found understanding is the ability to screen for dyslexia at an earlier age, whereas before it was thought that students shouldn’t be tested until the 3rd grade. We now know that students can be diagnosed much younger, and in turn receive earlier remediation and support. Additionally, research provides information on the best types of intervention and reading programs for the dyslexic brain. By passing dyslexia-specific laws, states can include this research within their guidelines and outline specific ways for their schools to identify, evaluate, and educate students with dyslexia.
Educator development and support
Children with dyslexia are in nearly every classroom, but structured literacy programs are not. Training and professional development for teachers puts a spotlight on the definition of dyslexia and how it affects language learning in the brain. Educators also learn how to teach children with dyslexia and what accommodations, support, and interventions are appropriate and researched-based. It is now widely accepted that structured literacy programs that are taught using a multisensory approach are vital for students with dyslexia and benefit most other students as well.
Although the specifics of the dyslexia laws vary from state to state, they are all servicing their students. Is your state a “dyslexia state”? Find out here.
Written by Autumn Templeton, CALP, CDP
Autumn is the Center Director of the Brainspring Learning Centers in Bloomfield Hills and West Bloomfield, Michigan.