There is a movement in California to improve the identification and support for students who struggle with dyslexia. This movement also seeks to provide training for teachers on evidence-based approaches for teaching reading to students with dyslexia.
The International Dyslexia Association and National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development Dyslexia define dyslexia as a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
To find out more about dyslexia you can visit Decoding Dyslexia (CA) at http://decodingdyslexiaca.org/what-is-dyslexia/
Dyslexia falls under IDEA as a specific learning disability. Having a diagnosis of dyslexia in and of itself doesn’t entitle a student to services or accommodations. To be eligible for special education is must be shown that the student needs special education and related services. If the student has a disability but does not need special education services then the student may be entitled to protections under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The following are some important things going on related to dyslexia:
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ (OSERS) letter to Colleagues (October 23, 2015)
On October 23, 2015, OSERS released a “Dear Colleague” letter to state and local educational agencies. The letter recognizes dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia as specific learning disabilities under IDEA. The letter reiterates to state and local agencies that there is no prohibition to using the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia in an IDEA evaluation. It also affirms that there may be situations where personnel implementing the IEP could benefit from knowing the underlying disability. For example, if the child struggles with decoding as a result of dyslexia.
The letter gives direction to the state and local agencies on the types of assessment tools and strategies required. A variety of tools must be used to measure functional, developmental, and academic information. It directs IEP teams to determine whether the student is achieving adequately for the child’s age or to meet state-approved grade-level standards. The team must determine whether the child’s underachievement is not due to lack of appropriate instruction.
OSERS encouraged state and local agencies to review their policies, procedures, and practices regarding dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. OSERS also reminded the state and local agencies of the importance of addressing the unique educational needs of students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.
A copy of the letter may be found here: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/guidance-on-dyslexia-10-2015.pdf
AB 1369 (Now Cal. Ed. Code Section 56334 and 56335)
On October 8, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown approved AB 1369. AB 1369 was legislation to assist school districts with identifying and providing services to children with dyslexia. Commentary for AB 1369 stated:
Existing law requires all children with disabilities residing in the state, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, to be identified, located, and assessed. Existing law provides that a pupil who is assessed as being dyslexic and meets certain eligibility criteria for the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act category of specific learning disabilities is entitled to special education and related services. Existing law defines a “specific learning disability” as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, and includes in that definition dyslexia and other specified conditions.
Cal. Ed. Code Section 56334 requires the state to include “phonological processing” in the description of psychological processes. Currently 5 C.C.R Section 3030(b)(10) states, in part, that a specific learning disability is “disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes…” Cal. Ed. Code Section 56334 will now clarify phonological processing is a psychological process.
Cal. Ed. Code Section 56335 requires the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, before the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year, to establish guidelines for dyslexia to assist regular education teachers, special education teachers, and parents. The guidelines must relate to both the identification and assessment of students who may have dyslexia. The guidelines must also provide an evidence-based, multisensory, direct, explicit, structured, and sequential approach to instructing pupils with dyslexia.
Dyslexia Guidelines Work Group
In response to Cal. Ed. Code Section 56335, the Superintendent of Public Instruction has created a Dyslexia Guidelines Work Group to develop program guidelines for dyslexia. The meetings have been recorded and can be viewed on their website at http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/ac/dyslexia.asp.
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