Comments that Parents Hear: “We do not evaluate students for dyslexia.”

Many schools do not understand dyslexia or have staff trained to evaluate for dyslexia.  While schools may have dyslexia programs, they are often weak or not available especially at the middle and high school levels, although they are required.  Many students with dyslexia are served in special education programs which may or may not be appropriate.

In Texas and a few other states, schools are required to have specific programs for students with dyslexia that are not part of the special education program.  The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders is at http://tea.texas.gov/academics/dyslexia/ 

Struggling readers are to be served through this program even if they have not qualified for special education services.  Texas regulations stress the importance of identifying struggling readers while they are young.  All students in kindergarten to 2nd grade are to be tested three times each year to identify struggling readers, but frequently do not inform parents of the results or have teachers trained in a variety of reading methods as required.

Recall the Law

“Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.”  Section 300.8(10).

” (a) 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 with on-site visits conducted as appropriate.

(b) 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 “Dyslexia Handbook: 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.

(c) A school district shall purchase a reading program or develop its own reading program for students with dyslexia and related disorders that is aligned with the descriptors found in “Dyslexia Handbook: 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 “Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.” The professional development activities specified by each district and/or campus planning and decision making committee shall include these instructional strategies.

(d) 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.

(e) 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.

(f) Each school must provide each identified student access at his or her campus to instructional programs required in subsection (c) of this section and 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 each student from receiving services at his or her campus.

(g) Because early intervention is critical, a process for early identification, intervention, and support for students at risk for dyslexia and related disorders must be available in each district as outlined in “Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.”

(h) Each school district shall provide a parent education program for parents/guardians of students with dyslexia and related disorders. This program should include: awareness 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.”  TEC 74.28

Possible Comments

“I am requesting an evaluation for dyslexia for my child under the requirements of IDEA and the Texas dyslexia law.”

“Let me know which program that my child will be evaluated under and how soon this will occur.”

“If you do not have someone who can evaluate for dyslexia, I can recommend sources that have evaluators or I can provide a copy of a report that I have that diagnoses my child as having dyslexia.”

“Since you are to have procedures to evaluate for struggling reader at a young age, what are the procedures at this campus?”

2 comment on “Comments that Parents Hear: “We do not evaluate students for dyslexia.”

  1. Mary Carol Coffman

    Thank you, Chuck, for tackling this! I would like to add a little to your post in hopes it is helpful to parents:
    1) Most school districts — but not necessarily individual schools — do understand dyslexia AND have the district staff trained to evaluate for it. Those district staff members are licensed specialists in school psychology.
    2) Though state dyslexia law DOES require districts to have dyslexia programs, “the state” (TEA) currently has no authority to fine or otherwise punish a district for not following this law.
    3) The term “Specific learning disability” is legally defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations. (IDEA is the special education law.) The legal citation for the definition is found at 34 CFR, Subpart A, Section 300.8 (c) (10). The definition includes the word dyslexia. Parents can Google the citation.
    4) Evaluation requirements under IDEA exceed the evaluation requirements under the state dyslexia law.
    5) Parents looking for info about how their own district’s policy has elaborated on either of these two laws can find the district’s policy published online. Google your school districts’s name (eg Houston ISD) and the words “Policy On Line.” The Texas Association of School Boards publishes this for each school district that’s a member. And that’s almost all 1000+ districts.
    6) Remember: neither the district nor the state can make a law that supersedes federal law. State law and school district policy can only expand on federal law– and add to it.

  2. Chuck Noe

    Mary Carol, Thank you for sharing this information. It is always important to know what district policy and procedures says on an issue. With our dyslexia law schools can serve these students under IDEA or 504 rules. 504 gives fewer rights to parents, and can cause some confusion to educators, and parents.
    State law does give TEA authority to have a system of interventions and sanctions to use when schools are not following state law and rules. The list of 12 options that TEA has is at TAC 89.1076, and include “reduction in payment or withholding of funds”. Over the years TEA has been reluctant to use the “stronger, harsher” ones, but in the last few years, I understand they have appointed a person to run or monitor the special education program for 1 or 2 schools.
    Thanks again for posting.

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