The federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released guidance to state and local educational agencies. This guidance clarifies that students with specific learning disabilities—such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia—have unique educational needs. It further clarifies that there is nothing in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in a student’s evaluation, determination of eligibility for special education and related services, or in developing the student’s individualized education program (IEP).
Illinois State Legislation:
In 2013 Decoding Dyslexia Illinois worked with State Representative JoAnne Osmond and State Senator Melinda Bush to introduce a comprehensive bill on dyslexia HB3700.
Unfortunately we were not able to get this bill passed as written but two developments came out of it:
On July 14, 2014, Illinois Public Act 98-0705 was signed into law. The law requires two activities of the Illinois State Board of Education:
- Adopt rules that incorporate an international definition of dyslexia into Part 226 of Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative Code.The definition of dyslexia from the International Dyslexia Association is currently incorporated into the 23 Illinois Administrative Code
- Subject to appropriation or the availability of private donations, to establish an advisory group to develop a training module or training modules to provide education and professional development to teachers, school administrators, and other educational professional regarding multi-sensory, systematic, and sequential instruction in reading.No funding was appropriated to establish an advisory group to develop training modules. However, a Reading Instruction Advisory Group (RIAG) was established to discuss this important topic and review various assessment/diagnostic materials, program and method materials, professional development materials, and other various resources specific to dyslexia. The results of that group is posted on the ISBE website – Understanding Dyslexia.
On January 13, 2016, changes were made to the Special Education Regulations, found in 23 Illinois Administrative Code, Part 226 as follows (always refer to the posted rules to verify that information is current):
Section 226.125 Specific Learning Disability: Dyslexia
- For the purposes of this Section, dyslexia means a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. (Definition is from the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association.)
- In accordance with 34 CFR 300.8(b)(10), dyslexia is one of a number of disorders included as a specific learning disability that may adversely affect the student’s educational performance and result in the child’s eligibility for special education and related services.
- Each child suspected of having dyslexia or identified as dyslexic shall be referred for an evaluation in accordance with the requirements of 34 CFR 300.304 through 300.311 and Subpart B of this Part.