After analyzing and discussing literacy and dyslexia you should have some understanding of these topics. Utilizing the Dyslexia Handbook, write a 2 page paper covering the objectives below. The 3 Objectives are:define dyslexia, its characteristics, and related disorders;discuss the common risk factors for dyslexia;briefly explain dyslexia assessment and the identification process.
Dyslexia and Related
TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY • AUSTIN, TEXAS
THE DYSLEXIA HANDBOOK
Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders
© 2021 by the Texas Education Agency
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Table of Contents
Foreword ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. iv
Definitions and Characteristics of Dyslexia…………………………………………………………………… 1
Screening ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7
Procedures for the Evaluation and Identification of Students with Dyslexia …………………… 21
Critical, Evidence-Based Components of Dyslexia Instruction ………………………………………. 39
Dysgraphia …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 59
Questions and Answers ……………………………………………………………………………………. 73
Sources of Laws and Rules for Dyslexia Identification and Instruction ……………………. 97
State Laws and Rules Related to Dyslexia……………………………………………………………. 99
IDEA/Section 504 Side-by-Side Comparison ………………………………………………………. 113
Contacts for Further Information …………………………………………………………………….. 127
Associated Terms …………………………………………………………………………………………… 133
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 139
Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your
Rights and Responsibilities ……………………………………………………………………………… 147
2015 U.S. Department of Education Dyslexia Guidance………………………………………. 153
Pathways for the Identification and Provision of Instruction for Students
with Dyslexia ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 159]
Addressing Concerns about Dyslexia Programs………………………………………………….. 161
History of Dyslexia Law …………………………………………………………………………………… 165
Compliance Statement…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 171
Figure 2.1. Considerations for Local Scheduling of Dyslexia Screening ……………………………………………… 10
Figure 2.2. Criteria for English and Spanish Screening Instruments ………………………………………………….. 12
Figure 2.3. Student Behaviors Observed During Screening ……………………………………………………………… 13
Figure 2.4. Sources and Examples of Screening Data ……………………………………………………………………… 15
Figure 2.5. Universal Screening and Data Review for Reading Risk …………………………………………………… 17
Figure 3.1. State and Federal Laws ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 24
Figure 3.2. Sources and Examples of Cumulative Data ……………………………………………………………………. 26
Figure 3.3. Additional Data Sources for English Learners ………………………………………………………………… 27
Figure 3.4. Areas for Evaluation …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 30
Figure 3.5. Dyslexia in Transparent and Opaque Orthographies ………………………………………………………. 31
Figure 3.6. Characteristics of Dyslexia in English and Spanish ………………………………………………………….. 31
Figure 3.7. Questions to Determine the Identification of Dyslexia ……………………………………………………. 32
Figure 3.8. Pathways for the Identification and Provision of Instruction for Students with Dyslexia …….. 35
Figure 4.1. Minimum Training Requirements for Educators Providing Dyslexia Services……………………… 44
Figure 4.2. Treatments Ineffective for Dyslexia ……………………………………………………………………………… 53
Figure 5.1. Sources and Examples of Cumulative Data ……………………………………………………………………. 62
Figure 5.2. Areas for Evaluation of Dysgraphia ………………………………………………………………………………. 64
Figure 5.3. Questions to Determine the Identification of Dysgraphia ……………………………………………….. 65
Figure 5.4. Handwriting Hierarchy of Instruction …………………………………………………………………………… 68
Reading is the fundamental skill upon which all formal education depends. Research now
shows that a child who doesn’t learn the reading basics early is unlikely to learn them at
all. Any child who doesn’t learn to read early and well will not easily master other skills
and knowledge and is unlikely to ever flourish in school or life.
—Moats. L.C. Reading is Rocket Science: What Expert Teachers of Reading
Should Know and be Able to Do, 1999
Texas has a long history of supporting the fundamental skill of reading. This history includes a focus on
early identification and intervention for children who experience reading difficulties. In support of dyslexia
legislation passed by the Texas Legislature, the State Board of Education (SBOE) first approved the
handbook, Dyslexia and Related Disorders: An Overview of State and Federal Requirements in January
The SBOE approved new guidelines called the Revised Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related
Disorders in 1992, which were revised in 1998. The handbook was updated again in 2001 and was called
The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders. The SBOE continued
to stress the importance of using research-based strategies to prevent reading difficulties and provide
appropriate instruction to struggling readers in November 2006 when The Dyslexia Handbook Revised
2007: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders was approved. In the summer of 2010, the
need arose for an update of the handbook to include new legislation and additional research.
Legislation passed in the 82nd and 83rd sessions of the Texas Legislature resulted in the need for
revision of the handbook. Consequently, The Dyslexia Handbook—Revised 2014: Procedures
Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders was approved by the SBOE in July 2014. The most recent
version, The Dyslexia Handbook—2018 Update: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders
(Dyslexia Handbook) implements statutory requirements added by the 85th Texas Legislature. The
Dyslexia Handbook provides guidelines for school districts to follow as they identify and provide services
for students with dyslexia and related disorders. Additionally, the handbook provides school districts and
parents/guardians with information regarding the state’s dyslexia laws and their relation to these federal
laws: the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 as amended in 2008 (Section 504), the Americans with
Disabilities Amendments Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This handbook
replaces all previous handbooks and guidelines.
There are also designated consultants at each regional education service center (ESC) available to assist
district stakeholders with implementing state law and SBOE rules and procedures regarding dyslexia.
Appendix E of this handbook contains information for the 20 ESCs. Or visit
In addition to The Dyslexia Handbook, resources include a State Dyslexia Network, a State Dyslexia
Consultant, and a helpline (1-800-232-3030) at regional Education Service Center (ESC) 10.
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TEXAS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
KEVEN ELLIS, Chair
PAM LITTLE, Vice Chair
GEORGINA C. PÉREZ, Secretary
COMMITTEE ON INSTRUCTION
SUE MELTON-MALONE, Chair
AUDREY YOUNG, Vice Chair
GEORGINA C. PÉREZ
COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL FINANCE/PERMANENT SCHOOL FUND
TOM MAYNARD, Chair
LAWRENCE A. ALLEN, JR, Vice Chair
MARISA B. PEREZ-DIAZ
COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL INITIATIVES
MATT ROBINSON, Chair
AICHA DAVIS, Vice Chair
RUBEN CORTEZ, JR.
The following individuals contributed to the 2018 version of the Dyslexia Handbook:
Identification and Services Committee
Dr. Regina Boulware-Gooden
Geraldine “Tincy” Miller
Dr. R. Malatesha Joshi
Geraldine “Tincy” Miller
Jeffrey Black, M.D.
Dr. Regina Boulware-Gooden
Education Service Center Region 10
Dr. Melanie Royal, State Dyslexia Consultant
The Texas Education Agency
Chief Deputy Commissioner, Academics
Associate Commissioner, Standards and Support Services
State Director, Special Education
Senior Director, Curriculum Standards and Student Support
Reading/Language Arts Coordinator, Curriculum Standards and Student Support
Technical Assistance Specialist, Special Education
The 2018 Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders
was dedicated in honor of Geraldine “Tincy” Miller in recognition of her tireless
work on behalf of all Texas children with dyslexia.
In the state of Texas, students who continue to struggle with reading, despite appropriate or intensified
instruction, are provided organized systems of reading support. Some students struggle during early
reading acquisition while others do not struggle until the later grades, even at the postsecondary level.
Here they face more complex language demands, for example reading textbooks, academic texts, and
other print materials. For many struggling readers, the difficulty may be due to dyslexia. Dyslexia is
found in all student populations and languages. Some students with dyslexia may be English Learners
(ELs) who struggle with reading not only in English, but also in their native language. In Texas, evaluation
for dyslexia is conducted from kindergarten through grade 12.
The purpose of The Dyslexia Handbook is to provide procedures for school districts, charter schools,
campuses, teachers, students, and parents/guardians in early identification of, instruction for, and
accommodations for students with dyslexia. This handbook will be used by school districts and charter
schools as they develop their written procedures regarding students with dyslexia. It will also serve as a
resource for educator preparation programs and other entities seeking guidance in serving students
Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.003 defines dyslexia and related disorders, mandates screening and
testing students for dyslexia and the provision of instruction for students with dyslexia and gives the
State Board of Education (SBOE) authority to adopt rules and standards for screening, testing, and
serving students with dyslexia. Texas Education Code §7.028(b) assigns the responsibility for school
compliance with the requirements for state educational programs to the local district board of trustees.
Title 19 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §74.28 outlines the responsibilities of districts and
charter schools in the delivery of services to students with dyslexia. Finally, two federal laws, the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504,
establish assessment and evaluation standards and procedures for students (34 C.F.R. Part 300 (IDEA),
Part 104 (Section 504)).
This handbook reflects current law as well as legislative action from the 84th and 85th sessions of the
Texas Legislature and replaces all previous handbook editions. Recent legislation includes the following:
TEC §21.044(c)(2) outlines the curriculum requirement for teacher preparation programs to
include the characteristics of dyslexia, identification of dyslexia, and multisensory strategies for
teaching students with dyslexia.
TEC §21.054(b) and 19 TAC §232.11(e) mandate continuing education requirements for
educators who teach students with dyslexia.
TEC §28.021(b) establishes guidelines for districts when measuring academic achievement or
proficiency of students with dyslexia.
TEC §38.003(a) requires students to be screened or tested, as appropriate, for dyslexia and
related disorders at appropriate times in accordance with a program approved by the SBOE.
Screening must occur at the end of the school year of each student in kindergarten and each
student in the first grade.
TEC §38.0032 requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to annually develop a list of training
opportunities regarding dyslexia that satisfy continuing education requirements for educators
who teach students with dyslexia.
TEC §38.0031 requires the agency to establish a committee to develop a plan for integrating
technology into the classroom to help accommodate students with dyslexia.
TEC §42.006(a-1) requires school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to report
through the Texas Student Data System (TSDS) Public Education Information Management
System (PEIMS) the number of enrolled students who have been identified as having dyslexia.
19 TAC §230.23 requires TEA to provide accommodations for persons with dyslexia who take
The following chapters are included in this handbook:
Definitions and Characteristics of Dyslexia
Procedures for the Evaluation and Identification of Students with Dyslexia
Critical, Evidence-Based Components of Dyslexia Instruction
The Dyslexia Handbook has 12 appendices:
A. Questions and Answers
B. Sources of Laws and Rules for Dyslexia Identification and Instruction
C. State Laws and Rules Related to Dyslexia
D. IDEA/Section 504 Side-by-Side Comparison
E. Contacts for Further Information
F. Associated Terms
H. Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and
2015 U.S. Department of Education Dyslexia Guidance
Pathways for the Identification and Provision of Instruction for Students with Dyslexia
K. Addressing Concerns about Dyslexia Programs
L. History of Dyslexia Law
I. Definitions and Characteristics of Dyslexia
The student who struggles with reading and spelling often puzzles teachers and parents. The student
displays ability to learn in the absence of print and receives the same classroom instruction that benefits
most children; however, the student continues to struggle with some or all of the many facets of reading
and spelling. This student may be a student with dyslexia.
Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.003 defines dyslexia and related disorders in the following way:
“Dyslexia” means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to
read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and
“Related disorders” include disorders similar to or related to dyslexia, such as developmental
auditory imperception, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental
dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.
TEC §38.003(d)(1)-(2) (1995)
The International Dyslexia Association defines “dyslexia” in the following way:
Dyslexia is 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
Adopted by the International Dyslexia Association Board of Directors,
November 12, 2002
Students identified as having dyslexia typically experience primary difficulties in phonological awareness,
including phonemic awareness and manipulation, single-word reading, reading fluency, and spelling.
Consequences may include difficulties in reading comprehension and/or written expression. These
difficulties in phonological awareness are unexpected for the student’s age and educational level and are
not primarily the result of language difference factors. Additionally, there is often a family history of similar
The following are the primary reading/spelling characteristics of dyslexia:
Difficulty reading words in isolation
Difficulty accurately decoding unfamiliar words
Difficulty with oral reading (slow, inaccurate, or labored without prosody)
It is important to note that individuals demonstrate differences in degree of impairment and may not exhibit
all the characteristics listed above.
The reading/spelling characteristics are most often associated with the following:
Segmenting, blending, and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
Learning the names of letters and their associated sounds
Holding information about sounds and words in memory (phonological memory)
Rapidly recalling the names of familiar objects, colors, or letters of the alphabet (rapid naming)
Consequences of dyslexia may include the following:
Variable difficulty with aspects of reading comprehension
Variable difficulty with aspects of written language
Limited vocabulary growth due to reduced reading experiences
Sources for Characteristics and Consequences of Dyslexia
Branum-Martin, L., Fletcher, J. M., & Stuebing, K. K. (2013). Classification and identification of reading and
math disabilities: The special case of comorbidity. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 12, 906–915.
Fletcher, J. M., Lyon, G. R., Fuchs, L. S., & Barnes, M. A. (2007). Learning disabilities: From identification to
intervention. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
The International Dyslexia Association. (2018). Knowledge and practice standards for teachers of reading,
(2nd ed.). Retrieved from https://app.box.com/s/21gdk2k1p3bnagdfz1xy0v98j5ytl1w.
Moats, L. C., & Dakin, K. E. (2008). Basic facts about dyslexia and other reading problems. Baltimore, MD:
The International Dyslexia Association.
Evidence-based Core Reading Instruction (Tier I)
House Bill 3, passed by the 86th Legislature, requires each school district and open-enrollment charter
school to provide for the use of a phonics curriculum that uses systematic direct instruction in kindergarten
through third grade to ensure all students obtain necessary early literacy skills. Districts and charter schools
must ensure that all kindergarten, first, second, and third grade teachers attend a teacher literacy
achievement academy to increase teacher knowledge and implementation of the science of teaching
reading. Additionally, districts and charter schools must certify to the agency that they prioritize placement
of highly effective teachers in kindergarten through second grade and have integrated reading instruments
used to diagnose reading development and comprehension to support each student in prekindergarten
through third grade. This handbook assumes that all students have received strong systematic reading
instruction in Tier 1.
Connecting Research and Practice
Research in understanding dyslexia as a neurodevelopmental disorder is ongoing. Future research will assist
in learning more about the phonological awareness deficit and how this deficit interacts with other risk
factors related to dyslexia. Research is now also focusing on the developmental cause of neural
abnormalities and how these predict treatment response.
Pennington, B. F. (2009). Diagnosing learning disorders: A neuropsychological framework (2nd ed.). New
York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Peterson, R. L., & Pennington, B. F. (2012). Developmental dyslexia. The Lancet, 379(9830), 1997–2007.
Common Risk Factors Associated with Dyslexia
If the following behaviors are unexpected for an individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities,
they may be risk factors associated with dyslexia. A student with dyslexia usually exhibits several of these
behaviors that persist over time and interfere with his/her learning. A family history of dyslexia may be
present; in fact, recent studies reveal that the whole spectrum of reading disabilities is strongly determined
by genetic predispositions (inherited aptitudes) (Olson, Keenan, Byrne, & Samuelsson, 2014).
The following characteristics identify risk factors associated with dyslexia at different stages or grade levels.
Delay in learning to talk
Difficulty with rhyming
Difficulty pronouncing words (e.g., “pusgetti” for “spaghetti,” “mawn lower” for “lawn mower”)
Poor auditory memory for nursery rhymes and chants
Difficulty adding new vocabulary words
Inability to recall the right word (word retrieval)
Trouble learning and naming letters and numbers and remembering the letters in his/ her name
Aversion to print (e.g., doesn’t enjoy following along if a book is read aloud)
Kindergarten and First Grade
Difficulty breaking words into smaller parts, or syllables (e.g., “baseball” can be pulled apart into
“base” “ball” or “napkin” can be pulled apart into “nap” “kin”)
Difficulty identifying and manipulating sounds in syllables (e.g., “man” sounded out as /m/ /ă/ /n/)
Difficulty remembering the names of letters and recalling their corresponding sounds
Difficulty decoding single words (reading single words in isolation)
Difficulty spelling words the way they sound (phonetically) or remembering letter sequences in very
common words seen often in print (e.g., “sed” for “said”)
Second Grade and Third Grade
Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:
Difficulty recognizing common sight words (e.g., “to,” “said,” “been”)
Difficulty decoding single words
Difficulty recalling the correct sounds for letters and letter patterns in reading
Difficulty connecting speech sounds with appropriate letter or letter combinations and omitting
letters in words for spelling (e.g., “after” spelled “eftr”)
Difficulty reading fluently (e.g., reading is slow, inaccurate, and/or without expression)
Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
Reliance on picture clues, story theme, or guessing at words
Difficulty with written expression
Fourth Grade through Sixth Grade
Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:
Difficulty reading aloud (e.g., fear of reading aloud in front of classmates)
Avoidance of reading (particularly for pleasure)
Difficulty reading fluently (e.g., reading is slow, inaccurate, and/or without expression)
Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
Acquisition of less vocabulary due to reduced independent reading
Use of less complicated words in writing that are easier to spell than more appropriate words (e.g.,
“big” instead of “enormous”)
Reliance on listening rather than reading for comprehension
Middle School and High School
Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:
Difficulty with the volume of reading and written work
Frustration with the amount of time required and energy expended for reading
Difficulty reading fluently (e.g., reading isslow, inaccurate, and/or without expression)
Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
Difficulty with written assignments
Tendency to avoid reading (particularly for pleasure)
Difficulty learning a foreign language
Some students will not be identified as having dyslexia prior to entering college. The early years of reading
difficulties evolve into slow, labored reading fluency. Many students will experience extreme frustration and
fatigue due to the increasing demands of reading as the result of dyslexia. In making a diagnosis for dyslexia,
a student’s reading history, familial/genetic predisposition, and assessment history are critical. Many of the
previously described behaviors may remain problematic along with the following:
Difficulty pronouncing names of people and places or parts of words
Difficulty remembering names of people and places
Difficulty with word retrieval
Difficulty with spoken vocabulary
Difficulty completing the reading demands for multiple course requirements
Difficulty with notetaking
Difficulty with written production
Difficulty remembering sequences (e.g., mathematical and/or scientific formulas)
Appendix H, Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and
Responsibilities has been included for additional information.
Since dyslexia is a neurobiological, language-based disability that persists over time and interferes with an
individual’s learning, it is critical that identification and intervention occur as early as possible.
Associated Academic Difficulties and Other Conditions
The behaviors in the previous sections represent common difficulties that students with dyslexia may
exhibit. In addition, students with dyslexia may have problems in written expression, reading
comprehension, and mathematics as well as other complicating conditions and/or behaviors.
Besides academic struggles, some students with dyslexia may exhibit other complex conditions and/or
behaviors. The most common co-occurring disorders with dyslexia are attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) and specific developmental language disorders (Snowling & Stackhouse, 2006, pp. 8–9).
Some, though not all, students with dyslexia may also experience symptoms such as anxiety, anger,
depression, lack of motivation, or low self-esteem. In such instances, appropriate instructional/referral
services need to be provided to ensure each student’s needs are met.
These additional conditions can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of instruction provided to students
with dyslexia. Motivation, in particular, has been shown to be critical to the success or failure of instructional
practices. Regarding motivation, Torgesen states (as cited in Sedita, 2011), “even technically sound instructional
techniques are unlikely to succeed unless we can ensure that, most of the time, students are engaged and
motivated to understand what they read” (p. 532). Acknowledging that students with dyslexia must exert extra
effort to meet grade-level expectations, all the factors that may affect learning must be considered when
identifying and providing instruction for students with dyslexia. ADHD or symptoms of anxiety, anger, depression,
or low self-esteem may lower a student’s engagement in learning. Educators and parents should provide
students with affirmation and an environment that fosters engagement and success.
Sources for Common Characteristics and Risk Factors of Dyslexia
Carreker, S. (2008, September). Is my child dyslexic? The International Dyslexia Association. Retrieved from
Dickman, E., JD. (2017, February). Do we need a new definition of dyslexia? The International Dyslexia
Association. Retrieved from https://dyslexiaida.org/
Mather, N., & Wendling, B. J. (2012). Essentials of dyslexia assessment and intervention. Hoboken, NJ: John
Wiley & Sons.
Moats, L. C., & Dakin, K. E. (2008). Basic facts about dyslexia and other reading problems. Baltimore, MD:
The International Dyslexia Association.
Olson, R. K., Keenan, J. M., Byrne, B., & Samuelsson, S. (2014). Why do children differ in their development
of reading and related skills? Scientific Studies of Reading, 18(1), 38–54.
Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems
at any level. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.
Sources for Associated Academic Difficulties and Other Conditions
Gooch, D., Snowling, M., & Hulme, C. (2011). Time perception, phonological skills, and executive function in
children with dyslexia and/or ADHD symptoms. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52(2), 195– 203.
Harpin, V., Mazzone, L., Raynaud, J. P., Kahle, J. R., & Hodgkins, P. (2013). Long-term outcomes of ADHD: A
systematic review of self-esteem and social function. Journal of Attention Disorders.
Kavale, K. A., & Forness, S. R. (1996). Social skill deficits and learning disabilities: A meta-analysis. Journal of
Learning Disabilities, 29(3), 226–237.
Klassen, A. F., Miller, A., & Fine, S. (2004). Health-related quality of life in children and adolescents who have
a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics, 114(5), 541-547.
Mazzone, L., Postorino, V., Reale, L., Guarnera, M., Mannino, V., Armando, M., Fatta, L., De Peppo, L., &
Vicari, S. (2013). Self-esteem evaluation in children and adolescents suffering from ADHD. Clinical
Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health 9, 96–102.
Sawyer, M. G., Whaites, L., Rey, J., Hazell, P. L., Graetz, B. W., & Baghurst, P. (2002). Health-related quality of
life of children and adolescents with mental disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry 41(5), 530–537.
Sedita, J. (2011). Adolescent literacy: Addressing the needs of students in grades 4–12. In J. R. Birsh (Ed.),
Multisensory teaching of basic language skills (3rd ed., p. 532). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
Snowling, M. J., & Stackhouse, J. (2006). Dyslexia, speech, and language: A practitioner’s handbook (2nd
ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
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Overview of Chapter II
The purpose of Chapter II is to further clarify the following topics related to screening for dyslexia:
The definition of universal screening
Administration of screening instruments
Interpretation of screening results
Best practices for ongoing monitoring
Part A of Chapter II will cover the definition of universal screening as well as the local, state, and federal
requirements related to dyslexia and related disorders, including the Child Find requirement imposed under
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Part B will address the administration of the required screening instruments for kindergarten and grade 1
Part C will cover how the interpretation of the screening results affect the decisions that the school will make
to determine when a student is at risk for reading difficulties, including dyslexia and related disorders.
Part D will address ongoing monitoring of students throughout their academic careers.
Part A: Universal Screening and State and Federal Requirements
The Importance of Early Screening
If the persistent achievement gap between dyslexic and typical readers is to be narrowed, or
even closed, reading interventions must be implemented early, when children are still
developing the basic foundation for reading acquisition. The persistent achievement gap poses
serious consequences for dyslexic readers, including lower rates of high school graduation,
higher levels of unemployment, and lower earnings because of lowered college attainment.
Implementing effective reading programs early, even in preschool and kindergarten, offers the
potential to reduce and perhaps even close the achievement gap between dyslexic and typical
readers and bring their trajectories closer over time.
—Ferrer, et al., Achievement Gap in Reading Is Present as Early as
First Grade and Persists through Adolescence, 2015
The early identification of students with dyslexia along with corresponding early intervention programs for
these students will have significant implications for their future academic success. In the book Straight Talk
about Reading, Hall and Moats (1999) state the following:
Early identification is critical because the earlier the intervention, the easier it is to remediate.
Inexpensive screening measures identify at-risk children in mid-kindergarten with 85 percent
If intervention is not provided before the age of eight, the probability of reading difficulties
continuing into high school is 75 percent (pp. 279–280).
Research continues to support the need for early identification and assessment (Birsh, 2018; Sousa, 2005;
Nevills & Wolfe, 2009). The rapid growth of the brain and its responsiveness to instruction in the primary
years make the time from birth to age eight a critical period for literacy development (Nevills & Wolfe,
2009). Characteristics associated with reading difficulties are connected to spoken language. Difficulties in
young children can be assessed through screenings of phonemic awareness and other phonological skills
(Sousa, 2005). Additionally, Eden (2015) points out that “when appropriate intervention is applied early, it is
not only more effective in younger children, but also increases the chances of sparing a child from the
negative secondary consequences associated with reading failure, such as decline in self-confidence and
Keeping the above information in mind, it is essential to screen students for dyslexia and related disorders
early in their academic careers.
In 2017, the 85th Texas Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1886, amending Texas Education Code (TEC)
§38.003, Screening and Treatment for Dyslexia,1 to require that all kindergarten and first-grade public school
students be screened for dyslexia and related disorders. Additionally, the law requires that all students
beyond first grade be screened or tested as appropriate.
In response to the screening requirements of HB 1886, the SBOE amended its rule in 19 Texas Administrative
Code (TAC) §74.28, Students with Dyslexia and Related Disorders. While this rule speaks primarily to
evaluation and identification of a student with dyslexia or related disorders, it also requires that evaluations
only be conducted by appropriately trained and qualified individuals. Guidelines regarding the required
screening for kindergarten and first-grade students are discussed in Part B of this chapter.
A related state law adds an additional layer to screening requirements for public school students. Texas
Education Code §28.006, Reading Diagnosis, requires each school district to administer to students in
kindergarten, first grade, and second grade a reading instrument to diagnose student reading development
and comprehension. This law also requires school districts to administer a reading instrument at the
beginning of seventh grade to students who did not demonstrate reading proficiency on the sixth-grade
state reading assessment. The law requires each school district to administer to kindergarten students a
reading instrument adopted by the commissioner or an alternative reading instrument approved by the
commissioner. The commissioner must adopt a list of reading instruments that a school district may use to
diagnose student reading development and comprehension. Districts are permitted to use reading
instruments other than those adopted by the commissioner for first, second, and seventh grades only when
a district-level committee adopts these additional instruments. Texas Education Code §28.006(d) requires
each district to report the results of these reading instruments to the district’s board of trustees, TEA, and
the parent or guardian of each student.
Further, a school district is required to notify the parent or guardian of each student in kindergarten, first
grade, or second grade who is determined to be at risk for dyslexia or other reading difficulties based on
the results of the reading instruments. In accordance with TEC §28.006(g), an accelerated reading
instruction program must be provided to these students.
For the full text of the state laws and rules referenced in this chapter, please refer to Appendix C, State Laws and
Rules Related to Dyslexia.
Are the dyslexia screening under TEC §38.003
and the early reading diagnosis under TEC §28.006 the same?
The answer to this question is not a simple one. School districts must meet the requirements of TEC §28.006
and §38.003, both of which deal, at least in part, with early screening for dyslexia.
Should a district wish to use a single instrument to meet the requirements of both TEC §28.006 and
§38.003, the district may, but is not required to do so.
It is important to note that TEC §38.003 applies only to the screening of kindergarten and first-grade
students for dyslexia and related disorders, whereas TEC §28.006 addresses general reading diagnoses for
students in kindergarten and grades 1, 2, and 7. Districts that decide to use one instrument to meet the
requirements of both the dyslexia screening and the early reading diagnosis for kindergarten and grade 1
must also continue to administer reading instruments to all second-grade students and to students in grade
7 who did not demonstrate proficiency on the state reading assessment for sixth grade.
The approved reading Instruments on the current list meet the requirements of TEC §28.006 and are available
on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website at https://tea.texas.gov/academics/early-childhoodeducation/data-tool-selection-guidance . The approved reading instruments include the required elements of a
dyslexia screener. These instruments will meet the requirements of both the early reading diagnosis under TEC
§28.006 and the dyslexia screening under TEC §38.003. This allows districts and charter schools to use an
instrument from the approved list to satisfy both requirements should they choose to do so.
Should it be determined that funds are not available for the early reading instruments under TEC §28.006,
districts are not required to notify parents/guardians of or implement the accelerated reading program.
However, districts and charter schools must screen all students in kindergarten and grade 1 for dyslexia and
related disorders regardless of the availability of funding.
While this chapter primarily addresses the screening required under TEC §38.003 for kindergarten and grade
1, the screening and ongoing monitoring of all students should be done regularly according to district, state,
and federal laws and procedures.
Federal Requirements- Child Find
In addition to state and local requirements to screen and identify students who may be at risk for dyslexia,
there are also overarching federal laws and regulations to identify students with disabilities, commonly
referred to as Child Find. Child Find is a provision in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a
federal law that requires the state to have policies and procedures in place to ensure that every student in the
state who needs special education and related services is located, identified, and evaluated. The purpose of the
IDEA is to ensure that students with disabilities are offered a free and appropriate public education (20 U.S.C.
§1400(d); 34 C.F.R. §300.1). Because a student suspected of having dyslexia may be a student with a disability
under the IDEA, the Child Find mandate includes these students. Therefore, when referring and evaluating
students suspected of having dyslexia, LEAs must follow procedures for conducting a full individual and initial
evaluation (FIIE) under the IDEA.
Another federal law that applies to students with disabilities in public school is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, commonly referred to as Section 504. Under Section 504, public schools must annually attempt to
identify and locate every qualified student with a disability residing in its jurisdiction and notify them and/or
their parents of the requirements of Section 504.
For purposes of this chapter, screening is defined as a universal measure administered to all students by
qualified personnel to determine which students are at risk for dyslexia or reading difficulties and/or a
related disorder. Screening is not a formal evaluation.
Timing of Screening
Texas Education Code §38.003 mandates that kindergarten students be screened at the end of the school
year. In scheduling the kindergarten screener, districts and charter schools should consider the questions in
Figure 2.1 below.
Figure 2.1. Considerations for Local Scheduling of Dyslexia Screening
Has adequate time for instruction been provided during the school year?
Has adequate time been provided to compile data prior to the end of the school year?
How will the timing of the administration of the screener fit in with the timing of other required
Has sufficient time been provided to inform parents in writing of the results of the reading instrument
and whether the student is at risk for dyslexia or other reading difficulties?
Has adequate time been provided for educators to offer appropriate interventions to the student?
Has sufficient time been provided for decision making regarding next steps in the screening process?
Texas Education Code §38.003 does not explicitly state when first grade students must be screened. The
SBOE, through approval of the rule which requires adherence to this handbook (TAC §74.28), has
determined that students in first grade must be screened no later than the middle of the school year.
Screening of first-grade students can begin anytime in the fall as the teacher deems appropriate. Grade 1
screening must conclude no later than January 31 of each year.
The timing of the grade 1 screening is designed to ensure that students are appropriately screened, and if
necessary, evaluated further so that reading difficulties can be addressed in a timely manner. Because
kindergarten is not mandatory in the State of Texas, some students will not have been enrolled in
kindergarten and will therefore not have been screened prior to the first grade. Waiting too long in the firstgrade year would delay critical early intervention for students at risk for dyslexia or reading difficulties.
Screening of first grade students by the middle of the school year will ensure that sufficient time is provided
for data gathering, evaluation, early intervention, etc., to meet the needs of students. Conducting the grade
1 screening no later than the middle of the school year will allow districts and charter schools to complete
the evaluation process with enough time for interventions to be provided to the student prior to the end of
Other Related Disorders
It is important to note that, while TEC §38.003 requires that all students in kindergarten and grade 1 be
screened for dyslexia and related disorders, at the time of the update to this handbook it was determined
there are no grade-level appropriate screening instruments for dysgraphia and the other identified related
disorders. For more information, please see Chapter V: Dysgraphia.
Local District Requirements
Each district may have additional policies and procedures in place regarding screening and evaluating students
for dyslexia and related disorders. Refer to your district’s website or administrative office for more information
on local policies or search for information specific to your school district or charter school by accessing the
Legal Framework for the Child-Centered Special Education Process at http://framework.esc18.net/.
Part B: Kindergarten-Grade 1 Universal Screening: Administration
Dyslexia screening is a tool for identifying children who are at risk for this learning disability,
particularly in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade. This means that the screening does not
“diagnose” dyslexia. Rather, it identifies “predictor variables” that raise red flags, so parents
and teachers can intervene early and effectively.
—Richard Selznick, Dyslexia Screening: Essential Concepts for Schools and Parents, 2015
The importance of early interventions for students with reading difficulties cannot be overstated. In order
for early interventions to be provided, a student must first be identified as at risk for dyslexia or another
reading difficulty. While educators once delayed identification of reading difficulties until the middle
elementary grades, recent research has encouraged the identification of children at risk for dyslexia and
reading difficulties “prior to, or at the very least, the beginning of formal reading instruction” (Catts, 2017).
The requirement in TEC §38.003 that all kindergarten and first grade students be screened for dyslexia and
related disorders is aligned with this shift to identify students at risk for dyslexia and reading difficulties
when they are just beginning their formal education. Universal screeners generally measure reading or
literacy-related skills such as sound-symbol recognition, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and
other skills. The International Dyslexia Association (2017) describes screening instruments as follows.
Screening measures, by definition, are typically brief assessments of a skill or ability that is
highly predictive of a later outcome. Screening measures are designed to quickly differentiate
students into one of two groups: 1) those who require intervention and 2) those who do not. A
screening measure needs to focus on specific skills that are highly correlated with broader
measures of reading achievement resulting in a highly accurate sorting of students.
—International Dyslexia Association, Universal Screening: K-2 Reading, 2017
While screening instruments can measure the skills and abilities of students at different grade levels, this
section is dedicated to a discussion of instruments that may meet the dyslexia screening requirement for
kindergarten and first grade students. As previously mentioned, at the time of the update to this handbook
it was determined there are no grade-level appropriate screening instruments for dysgraphia and the other
identified related disorders. As a result, the focus of this section is on screening instruments for dyslexia and
It is important that screening instruments be accurate and comprehensive; however, they need not be as
comprehensive as an extensive individualized evaluation. With this in mind, various types of instruments
that meet the criteria below could be used to screen for dyslexia.
In developing the criteria for the kindergarten and grade 1 screening instruments for dyslexia and other
reading difficulties, it was important to differentiate between the skills and behaviors appropriate at each
grade level. Additionally, with a sizable English Learner (EL) population in Texas, it was essential that Spanish
language screening instruments be addressed. Therefore, criteria for both English and Spanish speakers are
Regardless of the primary language of the student, instruments used to screen for dyslexia and other
reading difficulties must address the skills in Figure 2.2 below.
Figure 2.2. Criteria for English and Spanish Screening Instruments
• Letter Sounds Knowledge or Letter Naming
• Word Reading Accuracy or Fluency
• Phonological Awareness
• Phonological Awareness
While the selected screening instrument will be expected to measure each of the skills identified above, it is
important that individuals who administer the screening instrument document student behaviors observed
during the administration of the instrument. A list of behaviors that may be observed during the
administration of the screening and which should be documented are included in Figure 2.3 below.
Figure 2.3. Student Behaviors Observed During Screening
Lack of automaticity
Difficulty sounding out words left to right
Inability to focus on reading
In addition to the measures of the skills identified in Figure 2.2 above, other criteria should be considered
when selecting a screening instrument. Approved screening instruments must take only a brief time to
administer and be cost effective. They must have established validity and reliability and standards. They
must also include distinct indicators identifying students as either not at risk or at risk for dyslexia or reading
difficulties. Screening instruments must also provide standardized directions for administration as well as
clear guidance for the administrator regarding scoring and interpretation of indicators/results. Additionally,
each screening instrument must include adequate training for educators on how to administer the
instrument and interpret results.
Selecting an Appropriate Screening Instrument
Screening instruments must include a measure for each of the skills noted above. The commissioner of
education is expected to periodically issue a request for English and Spanish screening instruments that
meet the established criteria. Instruments that meet each of the criteria will be included on the
Commissioner’s List of Reading Instruments. A district or charter school must select for use an instrument
from the commissioner’s list. In determining which screening instrument to use, a district or charter school
must consider the primary language of the student and other factors as determined by the local district or
Administration of Screening Instruments
Who May Administer the Dyslexia Screener
A district or charter school must ensure that appropriately trained and qualified individuals administer and
interpret the results of the selected screening instrument. Please note that an educational aide is not
eligible to administer or interpret the dyslexia screening instrument. Individuals who administer and
interpret the screening instrument must, at minimum, meet the following qualifications:
An individual who is certified/licensed in dyslexia; or
A classroom teacher who holds a valid certification for kindergarten and grade 1.
(For a list of current certifications for kindergarten and grade 1, see the State Board for Educator
Certification Teacher Assignment Chart at https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/.)
BEST PRACTICE: Whenever possible, the student’s current classroom teacher should administer the
screening instrument for dyslexia and reading difficulties.
The individual who administers and interprets the screening instrument must receive training designed
specifically for the selected instrument in the following:
Characteristics of dyslexia and other reading difficulties
Interpretation of screening results and at-risk indicators and decisions regarding placement/services
When to Administer the Dyslexia/Reading Screener
Districts and charter schools must implement a screening program that includes each of the following:
Screening of each student in kindergarten at the end of the school year
Screening of each student in the first grade no later than January 31
For more information on considerations regarding the scheduling of the mandated dyslexia screening,
please refer to Part A, Dyslexia Screening, on p. 10.
Part C—Kindergarten-Grade 1 Universal Screening: Interpretation
The importance of early intervention cannot be overstated. Intervening early, before difficulties become
intractable, offers the best hope for successful outcomes and prevention of long-term deficits. The purpose
of screening is to help identify, as early as possible, the students at risk for dyslexia or other reading
difficulties so that targeted intervention can be provided. Screening alone will never improve outcomes for
students. The screening must lead to effective instruction for it to be useful. Therefore, once the screening
has been administered the next steps are to analyze results, identify level of risk for each student, and make
informed decisions. The next steps are broadly categorized as: refer for evaluation, implement targeted
intervention, and/or continue with core instruction.
There are several important factors to consider when interpreting screening results. First, it is important to
remember that there is no definitive test score that invariably identifies dyslexia. Dyslexia is a
neurobiological disorder that exists along a continuum of severity. Similar to diabetes or hypertension,
dyslexia is identified based on how far an individual’s condition departs from the average range. This makes
the identification of dyslexia more challenging than identifying other forms of disability.
Second, it is important to keep the definition and goals of screening in mind. The purpose of screening is to
differentiate a smaller set of individuals who may be at risk for dyslexia. Screening, by definition, should
never be the final determination of whether a student has dyslexia. Therefore, screening tools must be brief,
efficient, and cost effective. Subsequent consideration of other data and information with the smaller group
is then used to determine next steps. However, it is key to remember that “screening” represents the initial
step in the process. Dyslexia referral and identification under IDEA must be individualized and based on
multiple pieces of information, including results of the screening.
As with any evaluation, it is important that schools administer and interpret the screening instrument with
fidelity. Screening tools use criterion-referenced criteria to establish cut points derived by the publisher of
the tool. Cut points are used to group students into categories (e.g., at risk or not at risk) based on the
results of the screening tool. Districts and charter schools must adhere to the cut points established by the
published screening instrument.
In general, students scoring below the publisher-determined cut point are considered “at risk” for dyslexia,
while those who score above the cut point are considered “not at risk” for dyslexia. However, it is important
to realize that risk falls on a continuum and there will always be false positives (students who screen at risk
when they are not) and false negatives (students who screen not at risk when they are). Consequently,
continual progress monitoring and an ongoing review of data is important. Any student may be referred for
a full individual and initial evaluation under IDEA, at any time, regardless of the results of the screening
Students falling well below the cut point have a much higher probability of being at risk for dyslexia while
students scoring well above the cut point have lower probability of being at risk for dyslexia. The decision for
what to do next is easiest for students whose scores fall at the extreme ends of the continuum. Students
falling well above the cut point can be considered at low risk for dyslexia and are much less likely to need
additional intervention or evaluation. Students scoring far below the cut point should be considered at high
risk for dyslexia.
For students who are identified as at risk for dyslexia, the school should provide targeted intervention
provided by the appropriate staff as determined by the district or charter school. The district or school
should also continue the data collection and evaluation process outlined in Chapter III, Procedures for the
Evaluation and Identification of Students with Dyslexia. It is important to note that the use of a tiered
intervention process, such as Response to Intervention or RTI, must not be used to delay or deny an
evaluation for dyslexia, especially when parent or teacher observations reveal the common characteristics of
For students who score close to the cut point, more information will be needed to make an informed
decision regarding referral for evaluation, implementation of targeted interventions with progress
monitoring, or continuation of core instruction only. Data gathering will provide this additional information.
Screening Data Gathering
Both quantitative and qualitative information are critical components of the screening process. Examples of
quantitative and qualitative information used in determining next steps are provided in Figure 2.4 below.
Figure 2.4. Sources and Examples of Screening Data
Current screening instruments
Previous screening instruments
Formal and informal classroom reading
Additional brief and targeted skill
Observations of student during screening
(See Figure 2.3, Student Behaviors Observed
Other observations of student progress
Parent/guardian input (e.g., family history,
early language skills)
Current student work samples
Work samples from earlier grade(s)
For students who fall close to the predetermined cut points, implementation of short-term, targeted
intervention with regular progress monitoring is one way to determine if additional evaluation is needed.
Teachers and administrators should also be mindful that screening for risk is an ongoing process. Decisions
made based on a single-point-in-time screening instrument should always be reevaluated and altered as
more information is obtained as instruction continues. See Part D of this chapter, Best Practices for Ongoing
Monitoring, for additional information.
Screening data should always be shared with parents. Screening data should also be used by teachers and
school administrators to guide instruction at the classroom level. When large percentages of students fall
below the cut point (are at risk for dyslexia), it signals a need to review instructional programming and
practices and teacher training in effective and explicit reading instruction.
Interpretation of Data
A qualified team is required to review all data to make informed decisions regarding whether a student
exhibits characteristics of dyslexia. This team must consist of individuals who—
have knowledge of the student;
are appropriately trained in the administration of the screening tool;
are trained to interpret the quantitative and qualitative results from the screening process; and
recognize characteristics of dyslexia.
The team may consist of the student’s classroom teacher, the dyslexia specialist, the individual who
administered the screener, a representative of the Language Proficiency Assessment Committee (LPAC) (as
appropriate), and an administrator.
It is important to remember that at any point in the data review process a referral for a FIIE under the
IDEA may be initiated. Parents also have the right to request a FIIE at any time. Regardless of the process
in place for screening and data review, whenever accumulated data indicate that a student continues to
struggle with one or more of the components of reading, despite the provision of adequate instruction and
intervention, the student must be referred for a full individual and initial evaluation under the IDEA.
Universal Screening and Data Review for
In kindergarten and first grade, universal screening for reading and dyslexia is administered as required by
TEC §28.006 and §38.003(a)
Kindergarten students must be administered a reading instrument at the beginning of the year (BOY),
and may be administered a reading instrument at middle of year (MOY), and end of year (EOY)
Kindergarten students must be screened for dyslexia at the end of the school year.
First grade students must be administered a reading instrument at BOY and may be administered a
reading instrument at MOY, and EOY
First grade students must be screened for dyslexia not later than January 31.
Does the screener show the student MAY be at risk for reading difficulties?
Continue grade level,
evidence-based core reading
Collect and review quantitative and qualitative data
on the student
(See Figures 2.3 and 2.4)
Does the analysis show that the student exhibits
characteristics of dyslexia or other specific learning
Continue grade level,
evidence-based core reading
instruction (Tier 1) and
provide any other
Seek parental consent for a Full Individual Initial
Evaluation (FIIE) and, if the school receives consent,
conduct the FIIE within 45 school days, while
continuing to provide grade level, evidence-based
core reading instruction (Tier 1) and providing
appropriate tiered interventions. The ARD
committee (including the parent) meets to review
the results of the FIIE.
See Figure 3.8
Part D: Best Practices for Ongoing Monitoring
Ongoing progress monitoring allows educators to assess student academic performance in order to evaluate
student response to evidence-based instruction. Progress monitoring is also used to make diagnostic
decisions regarding additional targeted instruction that may be necessary for the student.
While some kindergarten and first grade students may not initially appear to be at risk for dyslexia based on
screening results, they may actually still be at risk. Students who have learned to compensate for lack of
reading ability and twice-exceptional students are two groups who may not initially appear to be at risk for
dyslexia based on the results of a screening instrument.
Some older students may not appear at first to exhibit the characteristics of dyslexia. They may demonstrate
relatively accurate, but not fluent, reading.
The consequence is that such dyslexic older children may appear to perform reasonably well
on a test of word reading or decoding; on these tests, credit is given irrespective of how long
it takes the individual to respond or if initial errors in reading are later corrected.
—Shaywitz, S.E., Morris, R., Shaywitz, B.A., The Education of
Dyslexic Children from Childhood to Young Adulthood, 2008
Awareness of this developmental pattern is critically important for the diagnosis in older children, young
adults, and beyond. According to Shaywitz, et al., examining reading fluency and reading rate would provide
more accurate information for these students.
Twice-exceptional students may not initially appear to be at risk for dyslexia. Twice exceptional, or 2e, is a
term used to describe students who are both intellectually gifted and learning disabled, which may include
students with dyslexia. Parents and teachers may fail to notice either giftedness or dyslexia in a student as
the dyslexia may mask giftedness or the giftedness may mask dyslexia.
The International Dyslexia Association’s Gifted and Dyslexic: Identifying and Instructing the Twice
Exceptional Student Fact Sheet (2013), identifies the following common characteristics of twice-exceptional
Superior oral vocabulary
Advanced ideas and opinions
High levels of creativity and problem-solving ability
Extremely curious, imaginative, and questioning
Discrepant verbal and performance skills
Clear peaks and valleys in cognitive test profile
Wide range of interests not related to school
Specific talent or consuming interest area
Sophisticated sense of humor
For additional information on twice-exceptional students, see Chapter IV, Critical, Evidence-Based
Components of Dyslexia Instruction.
For a description of common risk factors of dyslexia that may be seen in older students, refer to
Chapter I, Definitions & Characteristics of Dyslexia.
Best Practices in Progress Monitoring
It is essential that schools continue to monitor students for common risk factors for dyslexia in second grade
and beyond. In accordance with TEC §38.003(a), school districts MUST evaluate for dyslexia at appropriate
times. If regular progress monitoring reflects a difficulty with reading, decoding, and/or reading
comprehension, it is appropriate to evaluate for dyslexia and/or other learning disabilities. Free tools
approved by the commissioner of education as of the 2021-2022 school year can assist districts in
measuring student’s reading development at first and second grade. For more information on these tools,
see the TEA Early Childhood Data Tool Selection Guidance. Schools should be aware that a student may
have reached middle school or high school without ever being screened, evaluated, or identified; however,
the student may have dyslexia or a related disorder. One goal of ongoing monitoring is to identify these
students regardless of their grade level.
Therefore, it is important to remember that a referral for a dyslexia evaluation can be considered at any
time kindergarten–high school.
19 Texas Administrative Code, §74.28, Students with Dyslexia and Related Disorders (2018).
Catts, H.W. (2017). Early Identification of Reading Disabilities. Cain, K., Carson, D.L., and Parrila, R.K., eds.
Theories of Reading Development. Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing; 311.
Eden, G. Early identification and treatment of dyslexia: A brain-based perspective. Perspectives on Language
and Literacy, Winter 2016; (42)1: 7.
Ferrer, E., Shaywitz, B.A., Holahan, J.M., Marchione, K.E., Michaels, R., & Shaywitz, S.E. (2015). Achievement
Gap in Reading Is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists through Adolescence. The Journal of
Pediatrics, 167 (5): 1121.
Hall, S., & Moats, L.C. (1999). Straight Talk About Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the
Early Years. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary Books.
International Dyslexia Association. (2017). Universal Screening: K-2 Reading [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from
Nevills, P., & Wolfe, P. (2009). Building the reading brain, PreK–3 (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Selznick, R. (2015). Dyslexia Screening: Essential Concepts for Schools and Parents. [United States]:
Shaywitz, S.E., Morris, R., Shaywitz, B.A. (2008). The Education of Dyslexic Children from Childhood to Young
Adulthood. Annual Review of Psychology. 59: 451-475.
Sousa, D. A. (2005). How the brain learns to read. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Texas Education Code, Chapter 28, §28.006, Reading Diagnosis. Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 324 (SB 1488),
Sec. 21.003(16). 1 September 2017.
Texas Education Code, Chapter 38, §38.003, Screening and Treatment for Dyslexia. Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S.,
Ch. 1044 (HB 1886), Sec. 5. 15 June 2017.
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III. Procedures for the Evaluation and Identification of
Students with Dyslexia
Science has moved forward at a rapid pace so that we now possess the data to reliably
define dyslexia, to know its prevalence, its cognitive basis, its symptoms and remarkably,
where it lives in the brain and evidence-based interventions which can turn a sad, struggling
child into not only a good reader, but one who sees herself as a student with self-esteem and
a fulfilling future.
—Shaywitz, S.E. Testimony Before the Committee on
Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, 2014
The evaluation and identification process for dyslexia can be multifaceted. The process involves both state
and federal requirements that must be followed. The evaluation and identification process for students
suspected of having dyslexia is guided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
In Texas and throughout the country, there is a focus on a Response to Intervention (RTI) or a Multi-Tiered
System of Supports (MTSS) process as a vehicle for meeting the academic and behavioral needs of all
students. The components of the Student Success Initiative (SSI) and other state-level programs offer
additional support. Current federal legislation under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA),
as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), calls for the use of benchmark assessments
for early identification of struggling students before they fail. In fact, state law requires the use of early
reading assessments that are built on substantial evidence of best practices. Carefully chosen, these
assessments can give crucial information about a student’s learning and can provide a basis for the tiered
intervention model. Through the tiered intervention process, schools can document students’ learning
difficulties, provide ongoing evaluation, and monitor reading achievement progress for students at risk for
dyslexia or other reading difficulties.
Early intervention is further emphasized as the result of research using neuroimaging. Diehl, Frost, Mencl,
and Pugh (2011) discuss the need to determine the role that deficits in phonological awareness and
phonemic awareness play in reading acquisition, thus improving the methodology for early intervention.
The authors note that future research will be enabled by longitudinal studies of phonology remediation
using various treatments. “It will be especially important to take a multilevel analysis approach that
incorporates genetics, neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, and neurocircuitry, and also to combine the
strengths of the different neuroimaging techniques” (Diehl et al., 2011, p. 230). Evaluation followed by
structured intervention that incorporates new scientific research must be embraced.
State and Federal Law Regarding Early Identification and Intervention Prior to
Both state and federal legislation emphasize early identification and intervention for students who may be
at risk for reading disabilities such as dyslexia. Those professionals responsible for working with students
with reading difficulties should be familiar with the legislation listed in Figure 3.1 below.
Figure 3.1. State and Federal Laws
TEC §28.006, Reading Diagnosis
This state statute requires schools to administer early reading instruments to all students in kindergarten and grades 1
and 2 to assess their reading development and comprehension. Additionally, the law requires a reading instrument
from the commissioner’s approved list be administered at the beginning of grade 7 to any student who did not
demonstrate proficiency on the sixth-grade reading assessment administered under TEC §39.023(a). If, on the basis of
the reading instrument results, students are determined to be at risk for dyslexia or other reading difficulties, the
school must notify the students’ parents/guardians. According to TEC §28.006(g), the school must also implement an
accelerated (intensive) reading program that appropriately addresses the students’ reading difficulties and enables
them to catch up with their typically performing peers.
TEC §38.003, Screening and Treatment for Dyslexia
Texas state law requires that public school students be screened and tested, as appropriate, for dyslexia and related
disorders at appropriate times in accordance with a program approved by the SBOE. The program approved by the
SBOE must include screening for each student at the end of the kindergarten year and then again during first grade.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
The services offered to students who are reported to be at risk for dyslexia or other reading difficulties should align to
the requirements of ESSA, which requires schools to implement comprehensive literacy instruction featuring “ageappropriate, explicit, systematic, and intentional instruction in phonological awareness, phonic decoding, vocabulary,
language structure, reading fluency, and reading comprehension” (ESSA, 2015).
Equal Education Opportunity Act (EEOA)
This civil rights law ensures that all students are given equal access to educational services regardless of race, color,
sex, religion, or national origin. Therefore, research-based interventions are to be provided to all students experiencing
difficulties in reading, including ELs, regardless of their proficiency in English.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The most recent reauthorization of this federal act is consistent with ESSA in emphasizing quality of instruction and
documentation of student progress. A process based on the student’s response to scientific, research-based
intervention is one of the criteria included in IDEA that individual states may use in determining whether a student has
a specific learning disability, including dyslexia.
As referenced in the 2011 letter from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to the State Directors
of Special Education, states have an obligation to ensure that evaluations of children suspected of having a
disability are not delayed or denied because of implementation of the RTI process (Musgrove, 2011). For
more information, please visit www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/osep11-07rtimemo.pdf.
The Referral Process for Dyslexia and Related Disorders
The determination to refer a student for an evaluation must always be made on a case-by-case basis and
must be driven by data-based decisions. The referral process itself can be distilled into a basic framework as
Data-Driven Meeting of Knowledgeable Persons
A team of persons with knowledge of the student, instructional practices, and instructional options meets
to discuss data collected, including data obtained during kindergarten and/or first grade screening, and the
implications of that data. These individuals include, but are not limited to, the classroom teacher,
administrator, dyslexia specialist, and/or interventionist. This team may also include the parents and/or a
diagnostician familiar with testing and interpreting evaluation results. This team may have different names
in different districts and/or campuses. For example, the team may be called a student success team,
student support team, student intervention team, or even something else. Unless the student is already
served under IDEA or Section 504, this team of knowledgeable persons is not an Admission, Review, and
Dismissal (ARD) committee or a Section 504 committee, although many of these individuals may be on a
future committee if the student is referred for an evaluation.
When the Data Does Not Lead to Suspicion of a Disability, Including Dyslexia or a Related Disorder
If the team determines that the data does not give the members reason to suspect that a student has
dyslexia, a related disorder, or other disability, the team may decide to provide the student with additional
support in the classroom or through the RTI/MTSS process. The student should continue to receive grade
level, evidence-based core reading instruction. (Tier 1) and any other appropriate tiered interventions.
However, the student is not referred for an evaluation at this time.
When the Data Lead to a Suspicion of a Disability, Including Dyslexia or a Related Disorder
If the team suspects that the student has dyslexia, a related disorder, or another disability included within
the IDEA, the team must refer the student for a full individual and initial evaluation (FIIE). In most cases, an
FIIE under the IDEA must be completed within 45-school days from the time a district or charter school
receives parental consent. The student should continue to receive grade level, evidence-based core reading
instruction (Tier 1) and any other appropriate tiered interventions while the school conducts the FIIE.
Parents/guardians always have the right to request a referral for a dyslexia evaluation at any time. Once
a parent request for dyslexia evaluation has been made, the school district is obligated to review the
student’s data history (both formal and informal data) to determine whether there is reason to suspect the
student has a disability. If a disability is suspected, the student needs to be evaluated following the
guidelines outlined in this chapter. Under the IDEA, if the school refuses the request to evaluate, it must
give parents prior written notice of refusal to evaluate, including an explanation of why the school refuses
to conduct an FIIE, the information that was used as the basis for the decision, and a copy of the Notice of
Procedural Safeguards. Should the parent disagree with the school’s refusal to conduct an evaluation, the
parent has the right to initiate dispute resolution options including; mediation, state complaints, and due
process hearings. Additionally, the parent may request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at
public expense. Should the parent believe that their child is eligible for Section 504 aids, accommodations,
and services the parent may request an evaluation under Section 504.
Procedures for Evaluation
As discussed in Chapter 2, Child Find is a provision in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA), a federal law that requires the state to have policies and procedures in place to ensure that every
student in the state who needs special education and related services is located, identified, and evaluated. The
purpose of the IDEA is to ensure that students with disabilities are offered a free and appropriate public
education (20 U.S.C. §1400(d); 34 C.F.R. §300.1). Because a student suspected of having dyslexia may be a
student with a disability under the IDEA, the Child Find mandate includes these students. Therefore, when
referring and evaluating students suspected of having dyslexia, LEAs must follow procedures for conducting a
full individual and initial evaluation (FIIE) under the IDEA. For detailed information regarding Child Find see
As discussed in Chapter II, all public-school students are required to be screened for dyslexia while in
kindergarten and grade 1. Additionally, students enrolling in public schools in Texas must be assessed for
dyslexia and related disorders “at appropriate times” (TEC §38.003(a)). The appropriate time depends upon
multiple factors including the student’s reading performance; reading difficulties; poor response to
supplemental, scientifically-based reading instruction; teachers’ input; and input from parents/guardians.
The appropriate time for assessing is early in a student’s school career (19 TAC §74.28). Texas Education
Code §28.006, Reading Diagnosis, requires assessment of reading development and comprehension for
students in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and as applicable, seventh grade. While earlier is better,
students should be recommended for evaluation for dyslexia even if the reading difficulties appear later in a
student’s school career.
While schools must follow federal and state guidelines, they must also develop local procedures that
address the needs of their student populations. Schools must recommend evaluation for dyslexia if the
student demonstrates the following:
Poor performance in one or more areas of reading and spelling that is unexpected for the student’s
Characteristics and risk factors of dyslexia indicated in Chapter I: Definitions & Characteristics of Dyslexia
1. Data Gathering
Schools collect data on all students to ensure that instruction is appropriate and scientifically based.
Essential components of comprehensive literacy instruction are defined in Section 2221(b) of ESSA as
explicit, systematic, and intentional instruction in the following:
When evaluating a student for dyslexia, the collection of various data, as indicated in Figure 3.2 below, will
provide information regarding factors that may be contributing to or primary to the student’s struggles with
reading and spelling.
The academic history of each student will provide the school with the cumulative data needed to ensure
that underachievement in a student suspected of having dyslexia is not due to lack of appropriate
instruction in reading. This information should include data that demonstrate that the student was provided
appropriate instruction and include data-based documentation of repeated evaluations of achievement at
reasonable intervals (progress monitoring), reflecting formal evaluation of student progress during
instruction. These cumulative data also include information from parents/guardians. Sources and examples
of cumulative data are provided in Figure 3.2.
Figure 3.2. Sources and Examples of Cumulative Data
Teacher reports of classroom concerns
Classroom reading assessments
Accommodations or interventions provided
Academic progress reports (report cards)
Samples of schoolwork
Parent conference notes
Results of kindergarten-grade 1 universal
screening as required in TEC §38.003
K–2 reading instrument results as required in
TEC §28.006 (English and native language, if
7th-grade reading instrument results as
required in TEC §28.006
State student assessment program results as
described in TEC §39.022
Observations of instruction provided to the
Speech and language assessment
Curriculum-based assessment measures
Instructional strategies provided and
student’s response to the instruction
Environmental and Socioeconomic Factors
Information regarding a child’s early literacy experiences, environmental factors, and socioeconomic status
must be part of the data collected throughout the data gathering process. These data support the
determination that difficulties in learning are not due to cultural factors or environmental or economic
disadvantage. Studies that have examined language development and the effects of home experiences on
young children indicate that home experiences and socioeconomic status have dramatic effects on
cumulative vocabulary development (Hart & Risley, 1995). Having data related to these factors may help in
determining whether the student’s struggles with reading are due to a lack of opportunity or a reading
disability, including dyslexia.
Much diversity exists among ELs. A student’s language proficiency may be impacted by any of the following:
native language, English exposure, parent education, socioeconomic status of the family, amount of time in
the United States, experience with formal schooling, immigration status, community demographics, and
ethnic heritage (Bailey, Heritage, Butler, & Walqui, 2000). ELs may be students served in bilingual and
English as a second language (ESL) programs as well as students designated Limited English Proficient (LEP)
whose parents have denied services. In addition to the information discussed in the previous section of this
chapter, the Language Proficiency Assessment Committee (LPAC) maintains documentation (TAC
§89.1220(g)-(i)) that is necessary to consider when identifying ELs with dyslexia. The LPAC is required to
meet annually to review student placement and progress and consider instructional accommodations and
interventions to address the student’s linguistic needs. Since the identification and service delivery process
for dyslexia must be aligned to the student’s linguistic environment and educational background,
involvement of the LPAC is required. Additional data sources for ELs are provided below in Figure 3.3.
Figure 3.3. Additional Data Sources for English Learners
Home Language Survey
Assessment related to identification for limited English proficiency (oral language proficiency test and
norm-referenced tests—all years available)
Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) information for four language
domains (listening, speaking, reading, and writing)
Instructional interventions provided to address language needs
Information regarding previous schooling inside and/or outside the United States
Type of language program model provided and language of instruction
A formal evaluation is not a screening; rather, it is an individualized evaluation used to gather specific data
about the student. Formal evaluation includes both formal and informal data. All data will be used to
determine whether the student demonstrates a pattern of evidence that indicates dyslexia. Information
collected from the parents/guardians also provides valuable insight into the student’s early years of
language development. This history may help explain why students come to the evaluation with many
different strengths and weaknesses; therefore, findings from the formal evaluation will be different for each
child. Professionals conducting evaluations for the identification of dyslexia will need to look beyond scores
on standardized assessments alone and examine the student’s classroom reading performance, educational
history, early language experiences, and, when warranted, academic potential to assist with determining
reading, spelling, and writing abilities and difficulties. As part of the evaluation when dyslexia is suspected,
in addition to the parent and team of qualified professionals required under IDEA, it is recommended that
the multi-disciplinary evaluation team include members who have specific knowledge regarding•
the reading process,
dyslexia and related disorders, and
Notification and Permission
When formal evaluation is recommended, the school must complete the evaluation process as outlined in
the IDEA. Procedural safeguards under IDEA must be followed. For more information on procedural
safeguards, see TEA’s Parent Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process (Parent’s Guide) and
the Notice of Procedural Safeguards.
Tests and Other Evaluation Materials
Test instruments and other evaluation materials must meet the following criteria:
Used for the purpose for which the evaluation or measures are valid or reliable
Include material(s) tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely material(s)
that are designed to provide a single, general intelligence quotient
Selected and administered to ensure that when a test is given to a student with impaired sensory,
manual, or speaking skills, the test results accurately reflect the student’s aptitude, achievement
level, or whatever other factor the test purports to measure rather than reflecting the student’s
impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills
Selected and administered in a manner that is not racially or culturally discriminatory
Include multiple measures of a student’s reading abilities such as informal assessment information
(e.g., anecdotal records, district universal screenings, progress monitoring data, criterion-referenced
evaluations, results of informal reading inventories, classroom observations)
Administered by trained personnel and in conformance with the instructions provided by the
producer of the evaluation materials
Provided and administered in the student’s native language or other mode of communication and in
the form most likely to yield accurate information regarding what the child can do academically,
developmentally, and functionally unless it is clearly not feasible to provide or administer
Additional Considerations for English Learners
A professional involved in the evaluation, interpretation of evaluation results, and identification of ELs with
dyslexia must have the following training/knowledge:
Knowledge of first and second language acquisition theory
Knowledge of the written system of the first language: transparent (e.g., Spanish, Italian, German),
syllabic (e.g., Japanese-kana), Semitic (e.g., Arabic, Hebrew), and morphosyllabic (e.g., Chinese-Kanji)
Knowledge of the student’s literacy skills in native and second languages
Knowledge of how to interpret results from a cross-linguistic perspective
Knowledge of how to interpret TELPAS (Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System)
Knowledge of how to interpret the results of the student’s oral language proficiency in two or more
languages in relation to the results of the tests measuring academic achievement and cognitive
processes as well as academic data gathered and economic and socioeconomic factors
Although data from previous formal testing of the student’s oral language proficiency may be available, as
required by TEC §29.056, additional assessment of oral language proficiency should be completed for a
dyslexia evaluation due to the importance of the information for—
consideration in relation to academic challenges,
planning the evaluation, and
interpreting evaluation results.
If there is not a test in the native language of the student, informal measures of evaluation such as
reading a list of words and listening comprehension in the native language may be used.
Domains to Assess Specific to Dyslexia
The school administers measures that are related to the student’s educational needs. Difficulties in the
areas of letter knowledge, word decoding, and fluency (rate, accuracy, and prosody) may be evident
depending upon the student’s age and stage of reading development. In addition, many students with
dyslexia may have difficulty with reading comprehension and written composition.
Difficulties in phonological and phonemic awareness are typically seen in students with dyslexia and impact
a student’s ability to learn letters and the sounds associated with letters, learn the alphabetic principle,
decode words, and spell accurately. Rapid naming skills may or may not be weak, but if deficient, they are
often associated with difficulties in automatically naming letters, reading words fluently, and reading
connected text at an appropriate rate. Memory for letter patterns, letter sequences, and the letters in whole
words (orthographic processing) may be selectively impaired or may coexist with phonological processing
weaknesses. Finally, various language processes, such as morpheme and syntax awareness, memory and
retrieval of verbal labels, and the ability to formulate ideas into grammatical sentences, may also be factors
affecting reading (Berninger & Wolf, 2009, pp. 134–135).
Based on the student’s academic difficulties, characteristics, and/or language acquisition, additional areas
related to vocabulary, listening comprehension, oral language proficiency, written expression, and other
cognitive abilities may need to be assessed. Areas for evaluation are provided below in Figure 3.4.
Figure 3.4. Areas for Evaluation
Letter knowledge (name
and associated sound)
Reading words in isolation
Reading fluency (rate,
accuracy, and prosody are
Rapid naming of symbols
Possible Additional Areas
Memory for letter or
Verbal working memory
Review and Interpretation of Data and Evaluations
To appropriately understand evaluation data, the ARD committee must interpret test results in light of the
student’s educational history, linguistic background, environmental or socioeconomic factors, and any other
pertinent factors that affect learning. When considering the condition of dyslexia, in addition to required
ARD committee members, the committee should also include members who have specific knowledge
the reading process,
dyslexia and related disorders, and
A determination must first be made regarding whether a student’s difficulties in the areas of reading and
spelling reflect a pattern of evidence for the primary characteristics of dyslexia with unexpectedly low
performance for the student’s age and educational level in some or all of the following areas:
Reading words in isolation
Decoding unfamiliar words accurately and automatically
Reading fluency for connected text (rate and/or accuracy and/or prosody)
Spelling (an isolated difficulty in spelling would not be sufficient to identify dyslexia)
Another factor to consider when interpreting test results is the student’s linguistic background. The nature
of the writing system of a language impacts the reading process. Thus, the identification guideposts of
dyslexia in languages other than English may differ. For example, decoding in a language with a transparent
written language (e.g., Spanish, German) may not be as decisive an indicator of dyslexia as reading rate. A
transparent written language has a close letter/sound correspondence (Joshi & Aaron, 2006). Students with
dyslexia who have or who are being taught to read and write a transparent language may be able to decode
real and nonwords adequately but demonstrate serious difficulties in reading rate with concurrent
deficiencies in phonological awareness and rapid automatized naming (RAN).
Figure 3.5. Dyslexia in Transparent and Opaque Orthographies
Early and marked difficulty with word-level reading
Less difficulty with word-level reading
Fluency and comprehension often improve once
decoding is mastered
More difficulty with fluency and comprehension
Figure 3.6. Characteristics of Dyslexia in English and Spanish
Phonological awareness—may be less pronounced
Decoding—fewer “irregular words” in Spanish
Fluency—often a key indicator
Spelling—may show fewer errors than in English, but
still more than students that do not have dyslexia
Reading comprehension may be a weakness in both English and Spanish.
Findings support guidance in the interpretation of phonological awareness test scores.
There is evidence that blending skills develop sooner than analysis skills, and that students
can have good blending skills and inadequate reading development. Only when both
blending and analysis skills are mastered do we see benefits for reading development.
—Kilpatrick, D.A. Essentials of Assessing, Preventing,
and Overcoming Reading Difficulties, 2015
With this in mind, when determining phonological awareness deficits, evaluation personnel should examine
subtest scores, including discreet phonological awareness skills, instead of limiting interpretation to
composite scores since a deficit in even one skill will limit reading progress.
Based on the above information and guidelines, should the ARD committee determine that the student
exhibits weaknesses in reading and spelling, the committee will then examine the student’s data to
determine whether these difficulties are unexpected in relation to the student’s other abilities, sociocultural
factors, language difference, irregular attendance, or lack of appropriate and effective instruction. For
example, the student may exhibit strengths in areas such as reading comprehension, listening
comprehension, math reasoning, or verbal ability yet still have difficulty with reading and spelling.
Therefore, it is not one single indicator but a preponderance of data (both informal and formal) that
provide the committee with evidence for whether these difficulties are unexpected.
If the student’s difficulties are unexpected in relation to other abilities, the ARD committee must then
determine if the student has dyslexia. For ELs, an LPAC representative must be included on the ARD
committee. The list of questions in Figure 3.7 below must be considered when making a determination
Figure 3.7. Questions to Determine the Identification of Dyslexia
Do the data show the following characteristics of dyslexia?
o Difficulty with accurate and/or fluent word reading
o Poor spelling ski…
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