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.

63 comments

  • Shanna

    I have a nine-year-old son. He struggles with reading , he shows all the signs of having dyslexia. He does have an IEP already in place. My 23-year-old son , my 28-year-old daughter and myself all have dyslexia. We are from Texas now living in California and California school is refusing to test him for dyslexia. They say that they are not required . I know they can test him!! I need to show the federal law .

  • Sophia

    My school is denying to test me for dyslexia I have struggled in every grade with reading,writing and math I have also been put in reading help but then taken out because I am doing better but i am only doing well because I am reading below my grade but then I struggle again so I get put back in the next year but taken out again we have tried 3 years in a row and they won’t test me are they required to test me (school in New Hampshire)I also read on another site it is inhabited and all of the boys on my moms side has it so do you think that will help get me tested if we add that I also can’t tell left and right which makes it hard when my soccer coach tells me a side and both my finger look like L

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