Dyslexia Resource Hub

Dyslexia Policy

This page provides clarification about commonly misunderstood aspects of special education policy and links to a variety of resources specifically related to dyslexia.

Dyslexia is included in state and federal policy and can qualify a student as a child with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Dyslexia is included in federal and state policy as a type of Specific Learning Disability (SLD). SLD is an umbrella term for disabilities that affect specific academic areas unrelated to intelligence. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that affects a child’s ability to decode words and read fluently. It is a condition which could qualify a student as a child with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Final determination of eligibility is based a child’s instructional need.

Dyslexia can be specifically named in a child's Individualized Education Plan.

There is nothing in state or federal law that would prohibit the use of dyslexia on a child’s IEP.  The general category of Specific Learning Disability does not describe the specific area of instructional need. The use of the term dyslexia could provide useful information to teachers in understanding the nature of a child’s reading difficulties.

Response to Intervention (RtI) is designed to ensure children receive help at the first sign of difficulty.

Florida uses a Response to Intervention (RtI) model to ensure all students with reading difficulties are provided timely, evidence-based support at the first sign of difficulty.  Prior to the use of RtI many students had to wait until the gap between their ability and performance was wide enough to warrant special education. This resulted in many students being identified as having disabilities who, in fact, had never received appropriate instruction. RtI was designed to prevent this from happening. Students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities will respond more slowly to instruction and general education interventions. A slow response indicates further assessment is necessary and is one way to provide evidence of the need for an evaluation.  To learn more about the history of Florida’s RtI model, click here. 

The Response to Intervention process cannot be used to delay or deny an evaluation.

When implemented well, RtI can ensure that lack of appropriate instruction is not the cause of a child’s reading difficulty. However, for some students, reading disabilities are more apparent and may require more intensive and individualized interventions and accommodations. The RtI process cannot be used to delay or deny an evaluation. In the State of Florida, school districts or parents may refer a child for a special education evaluation without the completion of an RtI process.

Districts can refer a child if “the nature or severity of the student’s areas of concern make the general education intervention procedures inappropriate in addressing the immediate needs of the student” (6A-6.0331 (3)(d)3 F.A.C.).

A parent can request an evaluation at any time.

According to federal policy, parents may request an evaluation for special education at any time. The evaluation must be conducted within 60 days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation unless a state establishes another specific timeframe IDEA Regulations § 300.301 (b) – (c)(1)(i)).

The following paragraphs describe policy in the state of Florida regarding parental request for evaluation.

If parents suspect their child has a learning disability, such as dyslexia, they may request an evaluation at any time (6A-6.0331 (3)(a)4 F.A.C.).  In these cases, the district can conduct an evaluation while intervention and progress monitoring (RtI) continues (6A-6.0331 (3)(d)2 F.A.C.). Data collected during the concurrent RtI will be used by the Individual Education Program team in combination with the evaluation when determining if the child is eligible for special education services. Requirements for district response to parental request are outlined below are described in a Technical Assistance Paper from the Florida Department of Education (FS 2015-152):

If a parent or legal guardian requests that an evaluation be conducted during implementation of general education interventions, the district must, within 30 calendar days(unless the parent or legal guardian and the district agree to another timeline in writing), either obtain consent(and complete the evaluation within the 60-day timeline) or provide the parent or legal guardian with a written notice explaining why the district is refusing to conduct the evaluation. The notice must meet the requirements of Rule 6A-6.03311(1), F.A.C. (Rule 6A-6.0331(3)(c) and (f), F.A.C.; 34 CFR §§300.301(b) and 300.309(c)(2)). The district cannot delay an evaluation because general education interventions have not been completed. As a component of a comprehensive evaluation, the provision of evidence-based interventions and collection of response to intervention data continues as a part of the evaluation.

Federal Policy Resources

Federal Dyslexia Policy Resources

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Website provided by the US Department of Education that includes the text of IDEA, regulations, and other resources related to implementation of federal special education laws.

Use of the Term Dyslexia in Individualized Education Programs
Dear Colleague Letter from director of the US DOEs Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services clarifies that public policy supports the use of dyslexia in IEPs and explains role of teachers in understanding the needs of students with dyslexia.

A Response to Intervention (RTI) Process Cannot Be Used to Delay – Deny an Evaluation for Eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Memorandum to State Directors of Education from Director of Office of Special Education Programs clarifying RTI cannot be used to delay or deny an evaluation, parents can request a full evaluation at any time, outlines the timeframe and process through which evaluations should occur, and parental rights regarding the evaluation and provision of services to children suspected of having disabilities.

Guidance on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the current COVID-19 Environment from US Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services / Office of Special Education Programs
This document provides guidance to states and local education agencies on the provision of special education services during the 2020-2021 school year. The document reminds states and schools that children with disabilities continue to have the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) regardless of the instructional delivery model (in person, remote, hybrid) (p.2).  


State Policy Resources

State Dyslexia Policy Resources

Interested in what’s happening in your state? Check out the links below for information on state-level dyslexia legislation and policies.

Decoding Dyslexia
To find out how you can advocate for new dyslexia laws and policies in your area, contact Decoding Dyslexia.

Article: “How Parents of Dyslexic Kids Took to Their Statehouses and Won”
This article in Time magazine explains how Decoding Dyslexia has been successful in getting state laws passed.

Understood.org provides a general overview of state dyslexia laws and how they work.

The National Center on Improving Literacy
The National Center on Improving Literacy has a comprehensive overview of each state’s requirements related to dyslexia.  You can check your state’s requirements with their drop-down menu.

Dyslegia provides a list of laws that are currently on the books related to dyslexia.

The International Dyslexia Association
The IDA also has a list of state laws that includes ones that didn’t pass. This list may not be up-to-date.

Nessy tracks dyslexia legislation passed in states across the country.


Florida Policy Resources

Florida Dyslexia Policy Resources

FLDOE – Specific Learning Disabilities Resources
The Florida Department of Education provides specific guidance and resources to educators and parents on Specific Learning Disabilities, such as dyslexia, including policy guidance, IEP development, clarification about disabilities, etc.

Florida Academic Code – Exceptional Education Criteria for Students with Learning Disabilities
Provides text of the Florida Department of Education statutes related to the identification of students with learning disabilities, specifically names dyslexia, details district requirements when parents request an evaluation, and the role of response to intervention in the identification of SLD (6A-6.03018 F.A.C.).

Florida Academic Code –  General Education Intervention Procedures, Evaluation, Determination of Eligibility, Reevaluation and the Provision of Exceptional Student Education Services
Provides text of Florida Department of Education requirements for districts regarding requirements for initial evaluation including the use of general education intervention procedures (RtI) and response to parental request for evaluation (6A-6.0331 F.A.C.)

Florida PTA – Educational Implication for Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)
Parent Teacher Association (PTA) resolutions are designed to provide evidence-based information to guide and direct advocacy, legislative priority, and program development through the PTA Board of Directors, Councils, and local units.  This document can be used to build support within schools and to advocate with local districts and state legislators.

FLDOETaking a Closer Look at Dyslexia and Dysgraphia
This presentation developed by Deputy Director of the Just Read, Florida! office,  Heather Willis-Doxsee, explains that national and state policy includes the term dyslexia, describes the needs of children with dyslexia, and outlines new Florida policies designed to address them. The presentation, in PDF form, can be shared with schools, districts, and parents.

Florida’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports
Florida’s Multi-tiered Systems of Supports website provides a central, comprehensive location for Florida-specific information and resources that promote system-wide practices to ensure highest possible student achievement in both academic and behavioral pursuits.