Ensuring Students Receive Dyslexia Screenings and Interventions

By Joseph Hedger

The prevalence of dyslexia in the general population varies from 5 to 17 percent, though students with the reading disorder often remain undiagnosed, according to Dyslexia International. To be most effective, interventions by trained teachers should begin early in a student’s career. Several state boards have recently approved rules and guidelines to ensure that students receive adequate, early screenings and proper resources and interventions.

The Mississippi State Board of Education evaluated their dyslexia screening process in June 2017 and approved a list of dyslexia screeners for use in kindergarten and first grade, ruling that approved screeners must assess the following components: phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, alphabet knowledge, decoding skills, encoding skills, and rapid naming.

In April 2018, the Oregon state board approved a list of administrative rules for universal screening for risk factors of dyslexia, which include definitions, requirements for approved universal screeners, rules for administering screenings, and waiver policies. From these rules, the board produced a list of approved universal screening tools for use in Oregon schools.

State boards can also ensure schools provide adequate instruction, services, and resources to those affected by dyslexia. Board members in Arizona discussed this in March 2018 and ultimately approved the Dyslexia Handbook, which aids in identifying dyslexia, describes educational strategies shown to improve the academic performance of pupils with dyslexia, and lists resources and services available to pupils, teachers, and parents.

In May 2018, the Arkansas State Board of Education approved additions to their state education agency (SEA) rules governing how to meet the needs of children with dyslexia, which were originally approved in 2016 to establish guidelines for early screening, intervention, and services to meet their educational needs. The additions focused on reporting district data and enforcement of state rules.

Also in May, the Indiana State Board of Education approved the addition of a new section to the Indiana Administrative Code stipulating that each teacher is to receive information on dyslexia and evidence-based interventions no later than 2019–20 and that the SEA will develop and update a dyslexia resource guide.

At Nebraska’s state board meeting in January 2018, members sought to enhance teacher capabilities by supporting Legislative Bill 1052. Beginning with the 2018–19 school year, students identified as exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia will receive evidence-based literacy instruction services. The bill also requires the SEA to develop and distribute a technical assistance document on dyslexia, and it adds dyslexia instruction requirements to all teacher education programs approved by the state board.

In June 2018, the Texas State Board of Education approved amendments to the Title 19 Texas Administrative Code §74.28: Students with Dyslexia and Related Disorders. The amendments ensure that each student with dyslexia or a related disorder receives access to each program for which they qualify, guarantee open-enrollment charter schools are included in the requirements, and include a timeline for identifying and evaluating students with dyslexia.

Joseph Hedger is a NASBE associate editor. He can be reached at joseph.hedger@nasbe.org.