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.