School Testing for Dyslexia

Question:

Are public schools required to test children for dyslexia?

Answer:

The laws and practices concerning school testing for dyslexia vary in different jurisdictions.  This page has some information concerning the legal rights of school children in the US.

Federal Law Concerning Dyslexia Testing  (US)

In the United States, under federal law, public school districts are specifically required to identify children with dyslexia and provide appropriate services to them.

These are the specific places dyslexia is referenced in the laws and regulations governing services that schools must provide:

IDEA 2004 Statute & Regulations [emphasis on the word “dyslexia” added]:

Statute: TITLE I / A / 602(30) (Definitions):

(30) Specific learning disability.–
(A) In general.–The term `specific learning disability’ means a disorder in 1 or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.
(B) Disorders included.–Such term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
(C) Disorders not included.–Such term does not include a learning problem that is primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Regulations: Sec. 300.8 (c)(10) :

(10) Specific learning disability. (i) General. 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.

In October, 2015, the Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter specifically addressing concerns raised by parents who had been told that their school could not test for dyslexia, writing:

The purpose of this letter is to clarify that there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents

State Laws Concerning Dyslexia (US)

In recent years, many US states have enacted additional laws specifically requiring dyslexia screening in schools.  These laws cannot reduce protections under federal law, but they can create additional rights for the child and obligations for the school or district.

54 comments

  • Roslyn J

    My grandson has been struggling for several years. He has ADHD and has now been tested for dyslexia. The school personnel and his parents met and they said some parts are indicative of dyslexia, but other parts were counter indicative. He also had testing by a psychiatrist after referral from his pediatrician. He did find that he needs accomodation for dyslexia but the school (in Texas) says that he is not dyslexic and refuses to make any accomodation under 504.

    What are our options to get them to give him the help he needs? It is heartbreaking to see what he is going through and my daughter is losing her mind trying to find something she can do to help him (in addition to the hours a day she spends going through his work with him).

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Please encourage your daughter to read the book, The Gift of Dyslexia. The book includes specific instructions on how to get started with Davis methods at home. These provide a set of strategies that are different from what your grandson is getting in school, but are geared to the natural thinking style of children like your grandson.

    • Hilary L

      Ask for an IEE independent educational evaluation by a psychologist, speech language pathologist or a neuro psychologist at public expense for testing for SLD and Dyslexia. If they refuse that ask for Prior Written notice on the IEE.

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