Arkansas – 2011 – SB 749 – Children with Dyslexia

An act to ensure that children with dyslexia have their needs met by the public school system; and for other purposes.  Requires that all public school children in grades K-2 be screened for dyslexia; and that school districts implement strategies for treating dyslexia and related disorders.


“Dyslexia” means a disorder of constitutional origin  manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell despite  conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and social opportunity.

“Related disorders” means disorders similar to or related to  dyslexia, including without limitation developmental auditory imperception, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and  developmental spelling disability.

Requires that public schools test all students in kindergarten through grade two (K-2) for dyslexia and related disorders. The results of such testing must be reported to the individual student’s parents or guardians, as district-wide results must be reported to the State Board of Education.

The State Board of Education shall develop recommendations to school districts to administer reading instruments designed to diagnose student 16 reading development and comprehension; train teachers in the use of such instruments, and apply the results of the the instruments to the instructional program.

The state board shall adopt a list of reading instruments that a school district may use to diagnose student reading development and comprehension. A school district may adopt its own supplemental list of reading instruments.  Each reading instrument adopted by a state board or school district shall be based on scientific research concerning reading skills development and reading comprehension, and provide for diagnosing the reading development and comprehension of a student participating in a specialized reading program.

School districts must notify parents in writing, in English or the parents native language, before an identification or assessment procedure is used with their child, and of all services and options available to the student under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, § 504, if the student is eligible.

School districts must implement strategies approved by the State Board of Education for screening and techniques for treating dyslexia and related disorders, and purchase or develop a reading program for students with dyslexia and related disorders approved by the state board.

A teacher who screens and treats students with dyslexia and related disorders shall be trained in instructional strategies that utilize individualized, intensive, multisensory, phonetic methods, and a variety of writing and spelling techniques.

13 thoughts on “Arkansas – 2011 – SB 749 – Children with Dyslexia”

  1. What is currently happening with this bill? Anything?

    To put my two cents in as an educator, something has to be done in this state about dyslexia. It is virtually impossible to find local training. The training in other states that I have found is extremely costly, and districts don’t want to fund it. (I know this because I asked to go to a weeklong dyslexia training in California about seven years ago, and I was told it wasn’t necessary.)

    I am writing a term paper right now on dyslexia for my MSE, and the more research I do, the more frustrated I get. Most of my class this year have difficulty reading. Half of my class has already been retained in either first or second grade. Their ITBS scores from last year were alarmingly low. This year, I have tried intervention after intervention with little to no sucess. As I am reading these articles about warning signs and symptoms of dyslexia, the problem is becoming clear. I can’t successfully teach them because I don’t know how. I have received zero training in a disorder that affects 20% of the population.

    I’ll use the analogy of a carpenter building a house. Let’s send him out with only a hammer and a saw, and nothing else. And when he asks for nails, let’s tell him they are not necessary…just do the best you can with what you have.

    This is how I feel right now. We, as Arkansas educators, are allowing one-fifth of our population to slip through the cracks because we aren’t being given all the tools we need.

    I agree with Pamela Evans. Every child in K-2 wouldn’t need to be tested or screened for dyslexia. That should cut some of the cost right there, if cost is the obstacle.

  2. Every child in K-2 does not need to be tested or screened for dyslexia. Only about 20% of the general population has symptoms of dyslexia. Only those children recommended by teachers or identified using the DIBELS screening (which is already required by the state according to ACT 35) need to be tested. That would greatly reduce the cost for testing.

    There is an urgency to help these children. Each year that passes is one more year the child gets further behind and possibly lowers his self-esteem.

    I am so thankful the state is recognizing and discussing this issue again.

  3. I am so glad someone is doing something about dyslexia. I was wondering if it would be a little less expensive for our communities to limit the testing to children who don’t seem to acquire on time the concepts they should have integrated and to those whose teachers, guardians or counselors request it.

  4. Jeannette, please note that this bill did NOT pass the legislature — it died when the legislature adjourned.

    You can use the information about the bill to learn how to contact the Senator who sponsored the bill. Write to her and let her know of your support, so that there is a better chance of passage the next time around!

  5. I am so proud that our state is doing something for these children!! My son has struggled for year and always felt like he is not as good as other children!! Because he can’t read like everyone else. His I.Q is 117, but his laungue I.Q. Is 74! He has always be labeled as lazy!!! He is far from lazy when he is successful at something. When we went to the doctor and finally got our diagnosed Tyler and I both cryed

  6. The bill text does not make any reference to home schooling, so the answer to your question would depend on whether there are already other laws in place in Arkansas making public school services available to home schooled children with documented “special education” needs.

  7. As a mother of a child with dyslexia I am very thankful for those who are working on getting this bill passed!!! There are so many children that go undiagnosed and therefore struggle there whole lives. I have been teaching my daughter how to read at home for the past 8 months because the school system didn’t know how to help her. Thankfully in the last month or so our school has got some training on an Orton Gilliaham based program that I believe will help so many struggling readers!!

  8. How will this affect home schooled children who need to be screened for dyslexia or might have already been screened? What services would the state/districts provide for those who are home schooled?

  9. We believe that Arkansas SB 249 is a good example of a law that is worded simply and flexibly enough to bring meaningful help to dyslexic children. It provides guidelines and sets minumum standards, without restricting the options that each family has.

    It is important to keep in mind that the US Department of Education has extensively investigated many school-based programs for dyslexia intervention and has concluded that none have sufficient research support to demonstrate effectiveness on all measures. The Department could identify only a handful of studies related to 3 of 12 methods investigated; each involved very small study groups and showed mixed results. This does not mean the programs are not effective — simply that they are supported primarily by anecdotal evidence rather than studies that meet the rigorous standards sought by government officials.

    It is thus premature to legislate that any particular method be used for dyslexia. At the same time, it is appropriate to set standards to ensure that educators working with students have proper training in multiple approaches, and thus will have the knowledge and ability to work with children of various ages. We believe that the Arkansas legislation does achieve this result, by providing for early screening of all school children and empowering the State Board of Education to consider and approve appropriate strategies for treatment of dyslexia.

  10. Thank you for your comment concerning using an Orton-Gillingham multisensory based strategy for teaching dyslexic students. My comment is based on evidence from the book, Overcoming Dyslexia, written by Dr. Sally Shaywitz, of the National Reading Panel, and neuroscientist, professor of pediatrics at Yale.

    A book is not “evidence”, and Shaywitz does not cite to any research or evidence supporting Orton-Gillingham; she merely describes the approach.

    She states that O-G programs are highly structured and systematic to engage all the senses in learning about letters and sounds, the way a dyslexic child needs to be taught.

    She also states that it is an example of a program that is “not linked to strong or systematic vocabulary, comprehension, or writing instruction” (emphasis added), implying that it is deficient compared to the more comprehensive programs she does recommend in Chapter 19 of her book.

    NOTE: A portion of the comment was deleted as spam. It is not appropriate to use the comment function on this board as an effort to promote commercial web sites.

  11. As a mother of a child with dyslexia, I was so happy to hear about this bill. Intelligent children across our state are being made to feel inadequate and unable simply because our educators have not been given to proper tool to help them. This is the chance to open the doors to a brighter future. Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by!

  12. With 20% of the general population having dyslexia, and the high school drop-out rate so high, I am so thankful we may now be able to identify and help children while in the primary grades so they can be successful. The bill did not recognize that Orton-Gillingham teaching strategies have been recognized as being effective for teaching dyslexic children. I fear if schools are allowed to “develop” their own reading programs, many children will continue to struggle while schools are fumbling around with ineffective methods.

    Actually, the US Department of Education reported in July 2010 that there were no studies of Orton-Gillingham meeting its evidentiary standards, and that because of the lack of studies, no conclusions could be made based on research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of Orton-Gillingham based strategies. See Intervention: Orton-Gillingham based strategies. — admin

Comments are closed.