Arkansas – 2013 – SB 33 – Children with Dyslexia

Image2To ensure that children with dyslexia have their needs met by the public school system. Defines dyslexia and relate disorder; requires screening and intervention.

 This bill passed the Arkansas Legislature on April 11, 2013.  As passed, the bill:

  • Defines dyslexia  as a specific learning disability that is nurological in origin; characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities that typically  result from a deficit in the phonological component of language; and often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities.
  • Defines “dyslexia therapist” as a professional who has completed training and obtained certification in dyslexia therapy from a dyslexia therapy training program approved by the Department of Education.
  • Defines “dyslexia therapy” as a program that is delivered by a dyslexia therapist; systematic, multi-sensory, and research-based; offered in a small group setting;  and includes instruction in phonemic awareness, graphophonemic knowledge, the structure of English language, and strategies for word recognition, fluency, and comprehension.
  • Requires screening using DIBELS  for all children in grades K-2 and students in grades 3 and above who appear to the teacher  to have difficulty in specified skill areas;
  • Specifies that Response to Intervention (RTI) shall be use to meet the needs of  of students identified as having markers for dyslexia from the DIBELS screening.
  • Specifies that if RTI indicates the possibility of dyslexia,  the student shall be evaluated for dyslexia, and if found to be dyslexic, shall be provided therapeutic services and necessary accommodations or equipment for support.
  • Specifies that therapeutic services may be provided by a “tutor who is a highly qualified and trained interventionist.”
  • Provides that dyslexia therapy shall include explicit, direct instruction in the alphabetic principle; individualized instruction in a small group setting; meaning-based instruction directed at purposeful reading and writing with an emphasis on comprehension and composition; and multisensory instruction that incorporates the use of two or more sensory pathways during teaching and student practice.
  • Requires that by 2015, the Department of Education shall employ at least one dyslexia specialist to provide technical assistance to all school districts in screening, identifying, and treating dyslexia.
  • Requires that each education service cooperative in the state have at least one staff member who is trained as a dyslexia specialist.
  • Requires that by the 2014-2015 school year, all teachers receive professional awareness training in the indicators of dyslexia and the science behind teaching a student who is dyslexic.

Original Bill Text (as introduced): Dyslexia means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity. Dyslexia is a language based disorder characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

Related disorders means a disorder similar to or related to dyslexia, including developmental auditory imperceptions, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.

Each public school in this state shall screen all students in kindergarten through grade two (K-2) for dyslexia and related disorders using an early reading tools to assess reading development and comprehension.

The State Board of Education shall adopt a list of early reading tools that a school district may use to screen and identify student reading development and comprehension deficiencies. A student who is identified as having dyslexia or a related disorder shall receive appropriate intervention and treatment.

Any intervention or treatment provided to a student who is  identified as having dyslexia or a related disorder shall be:

(A) Appropriate, both in content and duration, to address the specific need of the student; and

(B) Scientifically research based best-practices.

An individual providing intervention or treatment to a student who is identified as having dyslexia or a related disorder shall be trained in the specific intervention or treatment utilized.

A school district shall notify a student’s parent or guardian, in English or in the parent or guardian’s native language, in writing by regular mail:

(A) Before screening or identification procedure is used with the individual student; and

(B) Of all services, programs, and therapies available to the student.


4 thoughts on “Arkansas – 2013 – SB 33 – Children with Dyslexia”

  1. My son is 14 and has nearly all of the signs of having dyslexia. He still can’t read satisfactorily and despite pointing out at his school that there is a bill passed that says they are suppose to be screened, they don’t. What steps can be done? Any help of how to proceed would be appreciated.

  2. Amen!! My son was recently diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculai. I am paying close to 1000k a semester for tutoring services he must have but that our district doesn’t provide! Our annual income for a family of 5 is less than 30k a year…i’ve had to take on a second job just to pay for it. This is not right.

  3. As a spouse of a very intelligent dyslexic and mother to two highly intelligent dyslexic boys AND an educator, I feel very strongly about legislation that would require schools to screen for and provide interventions for dyslexia. I can only imagine how my husband’s story may have turned out different – how he would have gone to college out of high school, not thinking he was too “dumb” and “stupid” to go. How some of his teachers would have recognized his strengths instead of his weaknesses and encouraged him to go to college instead of telling him that he wasn’t college material. Well, he was – only it took him twenty years to get up the courage to pursue that coveted degree. But thankfully our boys have not had to go through this because we educated ourselves and recognized the warning signs and insisted that they receive the accommodations that make it necessary for them to be successful. I am not “tooting our own horn”, only worried about the children who don’t have anyone to fight for them – I have done the best I could as a teacher, recognizing child after child each year who needs help only to be told by the administration that we couldn’t help them all…and why not?? Isn’t that our duty as citizens, parents, educators?? Why is it okay to let even one child slip through that proverbial crack? We are responsible for them all and I feel strongly that our state should be one of the brave ones who take a stand and say we will not let even one child go without the specific help they need if it can be at all helped. Thank you Senator Elliot.

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