April 28, 2020 / by LiteracyUntangled

Dyslexia: Relevant Federal Education Laws – The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

In a recent post, we discussed how The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) relates to dyslexia. Today we’re going continue that conversation by digging into The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Now let’s examine how IDEA applies to dyslexia.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

This law is a federal law that applies to special education. Now let’s first look at how dyslexia qualifies as a disability under two categories in IDEA.

20 U.S.C §1401(30) and 34 CFR §300.8(c)(10)

  • 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 function, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

20 U.S.C §1401(30) and 34 CFR §300.8(c)(1a)

  • Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

**Note: Phonemic Awareness and rapid naming skills (RAN) are language skills; they fall under phonological processes. A weakness or deficit in these areas can qualify your child for special education

Reading Criteria Under IDEA: 20 U.S.C. § 6368 (3)(4)(5)(6)(7)

  • (3) Essential Components of reading instruction
    • (A) phonemic awareness;
    • (B) phonics;
    • (C) vocabulary development;
    • (D) reading fluency, including oral reading skills; and
    • (E) reading comprehension strategies
  • (4) Instructional Staff – The term “instructional staff”
    • (A) means individuals who have responsibility for teaching children to read; and

    • (B) includes principals, teachers, supervisors of instruction, librarians, library school media specialists, teachers of academic subjects other than reading, and other individuals who have responsibility for assisting children to learn to read.
  • (5) Reading – the term “reading” means a complex system of deriving meaning from print that requires all of the following:
    • (A) The skills and knowledge to understand how phonemes, or speech sounds, are connected to print.
    • (B) The ability to decode unfamiliar words.
    • (C) The ability to read fluently
    • (D) Sufficient background information and vocabulary to foster reading comprehension.
    • (E) The development of appropriate active strategies to construct meaning from print.
    • (F) The development and maintenance of a motivation to read.
  • (6) Scientifically based reading research – the term “scientifically based reading research” means research that:
    • (A) applies rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain valid knowledge relevant to reading development, reading instruction, and reading difficulties; and

    • (B) includes research that
      • (i) employs systematic, empirical methods that draw on observation or experiment;
      • (ii) involves rigorous data analyses that are adequate to test the stated hypotheses and justify the general conclusions drawn;
      • (iii) relies on measurements or observational methods that provide valid data across evaluators and observers and across multiple measurements and observations; and
      • (iv) has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or approved by a panel of independent experts through a comparably rigorous, objective, and scientific review.
  • (7) Screening, diagnostic, and classroom-based instructional reading assessments
    • (A) In general – the term “screening, diagnostic, and class-room based instructional reading assessments” means –
      • (i) screening reading assessments;
      • (ii) diagnostic reading assessments; and
      • (iii) class-room based instruction reading assessments.

    • (B) Screen reading assessment – the term “screening reading assessment” means an assessment that is –
      • (i) valid, reliable, and based on scientifically based reading research; and
      • (ii) a brief procedure designed as a first step in identifying children who may be at high risk for delayed development or academic failure and in need of further diagnosis of their need for special services or additional reading instruction.

    • (C) Diagnostic reading assessment – the term “diagnostic reading assessment means an assessment that is –
      • (i) valid, reliable, and based on scientifically based reading research; and
      • (ii) used for the purpose of –
        • (I) identifying a child’s specific areas of strengths and weaknesses so that the child has learned to read by the end of grade 3;
        • (II) determining any difficulties that a child may have in learning to read and the potential cause of such difficulties; and
        • (III) helping to determine possible reading intervention strategies and related special needs.

    • (D) Classroom-based instructional reading assessment – the term “classroom-based instructional reading assessment” means an assessment that –
      • (i) evaluates children’s learning based on systematic observations by teachers of children performing academic tasks that are part of their daily classroom experience; and
      • (ii) is used to improve instruction in reading, including classroom instruction.

So what does this mean? It means IDEA is very clear on the definition of and how it relates to students with dyslexia and ADHD. The word dyslexia is are specifically used in this statue! The statue also states that major life activities that may be affected by disability include “learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, writing, communicating…” There is no ambiguity about the use of the word dyslexia or whether or not it is a real disability!

Knowing the rights provided to your child under IDEA is huge step towards getting your dyslexic child, the services and instruction that your school is obligated under federal law to provide!

Fill in the form below to receive your free IDEA Reference Guide!