Article: A Critical Analysis of Dyslexia Legislation in Three States

green apple on red booksAbstract: After a multitude of studies across more than a century, researchers have failed to consistently identify characteristics or patterns that distinguish dyslexia from other decoding challenges. Many researchers and educators argue the construct is too vague and contradictory to be useful for educators. Nevertheless, attention to dyslexia in policy and practice has increased at a rapid rate; 37 states now have dyslexia laws, and national legislation was passed in 2016. Employing Bakhtin’s concept of authoritative discourse (AD) as a theoretical lens, we examined the emergence and current state of dyslexia legislation and policy in Texas, Indiana, and Florida, three states that represent various histories of legislation and stages of policy implementation. Our analysis found similarities among the states’ legislation, particularly regarding how the policies emerged and the AD embedded within them. The International Dyslexia Society’s recommendations for a specific intervention approach that is “multisensory, systematic, and structured” appear in each state’s laws. This approach is not well supported by research, but it is officially sanctioned through legislation in many states and has had a profound effect on policy and practice. By not engaging in the discourse or using the word “dyslexia,” literacy researchers and educators place themselves outside of a closed discourse circle that influences policy and practice and deeply affects students. We encourage active participation in the conversation and in policy decisions that are currently taking place without the input of literacy educators and researchers


A Critical Analysis of Dyslexia Legislation in Three States. Jo Worthy, Doris Villarreal, Vickie Godfrey, Sam DeJulio, Angela Stefanski, Amy Leitze, Jennifer Cooper. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice. First published date: July-05-2017. 10.1177/2381336917718501