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June8,2015

Mr.MichaelYudin
AssistantSecretary
OfficeofSpecialEducationandRehabilitativeServices
U.S.DepartmentofEducation
400MarylandAve.,SW
Washington,DC202027100
DearMr.Yudin:
OnbehalfoftheundersignedorganizationswhoaremembersoftheConsortiumforCitizenswith
DisabilitiesEducationTaskforce,werespectfully request that the U.S. Department of Education
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issue guidance to state
educational agencies to direct local educational agencies to examine their procedures and
practices regarding the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia; and the
provision of appropriate accommodations for students with specific learning disabilities.
Currently,thereare2.4millionstudentswhohavespecificlearningdisabilitiesandreceivespecial
educationservicesprovidedbytheIndividualswithDisabilitiesEducationActof2004(IDEA).The
mostcommontypesofspecificlearningdisabilitiesarethosethatimpacttheareasofreading
(dyslexia),math(dyscalculia),andwrittenexpression(dysgraphia).Theymaycooccurwithother
disordersofattention,languageandbehavior,butaredistinctinhowtheyimpactlearning.
Additionally,thereareanotherestimated15%ofallstudentswhostruggleinschooldueto
unidentifiedlearningandattentionissues.
Ithascometoourattentionthatparentsnationwidearehavingsimilarexperienceswherebysome
statesandschooldistrictsarereluctanttoincludeordirectlyopposedtoincluding,insomecases
thewordsdyslexia,dyscalculia,ordysgraphiainastudentsIndividualizedEducational
Program(IEP).Inmanycases,parentshavebeentoldthattheirstatedoesnotrecognizedyslexia,
dyscalculia,ordysgraphiaandinsteadonlyusesthetermspecificlearningdisability.Clearly,there
mustbeamisunderstandingofhowtheU.S.DepartmentofEducationintendsforstatesandschool
districtstodefineandimplementthedefinitionofspecificlearningdisability.
DyslexiaisexplicitlymentionedintheIDEA2004statute(Sec.602(30)(B))andregulations(Sec.
300.8(c)(10))aspartofthedefinitionofspecificlearningdisability(SLD).Further,theterms
dyslexiaanddyscalculiaarementionedasspecificsubtypesoflearningdisordersintheDiagnostic
andStatisticalManualofMentalDisorders(DSMV)(seep.67).Thus,itisappropriatetomake
specificmentionofthesesubtypesofspecificlearningdisordersinanIEP.
Itiscriticalthatstatesandschooldistrictsappropriatelyincludedyslexia, dyscalculia, and
dysgraphiaonastudentsIEPtoensurethattheinterventions,goalsandobjectivesoutlinedinthe
IEPmatchwiththestudentsspecificneeds.Forexample,insteadofincluding
dyslexia/dyscalculia/dysgraphia,astudentsIEPistypicallygiventhebroad,vaguestatementof

specificlearningdisabilitiesbasicreadingskills,insteadofspecificlearningdisabilities
dyslexia.Withoutindicatingthespecifictermsdyslexia,dyscalculia,ordysgraphiawhen
appropriate,thisphraseonanIEPissimplytoovagueadescriptiontocommunicatetoateacher
thatthechildneedsintensive,explicit,systematic,evidencebasedinstructiontomakeprogress.
AccuracyintheIEPiscriticaltoensuringthatstudents,familiesandeducatorsallhavethe
informationneededtoguidedecisionmaking.
Further,forstudentswhoareabletoovercomethefirsthurdleofproperidentificationofthe
specificlearningdisability,theythenfacethechallengeofreceivingappropriateaccommodations.
Thevastmajorityofstudentswithspecificlearningdisabilitiesspendmost,ifnotall,oftheirschool
dayinageneraleducationclassroom.However,manyteachersdonotreceiveadequatepreparation
orprofessionaldevelopmenttoprovideandintegrateappropriateaccommodationsintoclassroom
instructionforstudentswithspecificlearningdisabilities.Knowingtheaccommodationsthatare
availabletostudentswithspecificlearningdisabilitiesandidentifyingwhichaccommodations
wouldworkbestforeachstudentisintegraltotheirsuccess.Itisnotenoughtoproperlyidentify
thedisabilitywithoutalsosupportingthestudentthroughprovidingappropriateaccommodations.
Therefore, we urge the Department to issue guidance to states and local educational
agencies to highlight, among other issues:
x

Affirmthatthetermdyslexia,existsinboththeIDEA2004statute(Sec.602(30)(B))and
regulations(Sec.300.8(c)(10))aspartofthedefinitionofspecificlearningdisability.

Affirmthatitisentirelyappropriatetomakespecificmentionofsubtypesofspecific
learningdisordersinanIEPastheyarementionedintheDSMV(e.g.Dyslexiaand
Dyscalculia).

Affirmthatthereisnolegalreasonwhythetermsdyslexia,dyscalculia,anddysgraphia
shouldnotbeusedbyastateorlocaleducationalagencywhenreferringtothe
identificationofandservicesforastudentwhodoesinfacthaveanyofthesespecific
learningdisabilities.

Requirestatesandlocaleducationalagenciestoevaluateexistingpoliciesbothwritten
andnonwritteninstitutionalpoliciestodeterminewhetherthetermsdyslexia,
dyscalculia,anddysgraphiaarebeingprohibitedorsuppressedduringthe
comprehensiveevaluationprocess,IndividualizedEducationalProgrammeetings,
identificationofspecializedinstructionalprogramsorrelatedserviceproviders,in
conversationswithparents,orbysystemicomissioninstate/LEApolicies.

Affirmthatstatesandlocaleducationalagenciesshouldhavepoliciesinplacethatallowfor
theuseofthetermsdyslexia,dyscalculia,anddysgraphiaonastudentsIndividualized
EducationalProgram,ifthefindingsofastudentscomprehensiveevaluationdocumentthe
presenceofanyofthesetypesofspecificlearningdisabilities.

Providestatesandlocaleducationalagencieswithacomprehensivelistofresources
supportedbytheU.S.DepartmentofEducationtoassistwiththeevaluationand
identificationofstudentswithdyslexia,dyscalculia,anddysgraphia,andother
manifestationsofspecificlearningdisabilities.

Providestatesandlocaleducationalagencieswithacomprehensiveguidetocommonly
usedaccommodationsforstudentswithspecificlearningdisabilities,includingdyslexia,
dyscalculia,anddysgraphia,andalistofresourcesforteacherstoassistinincorporating
theseaccommodationsintodailyinstructionandclassroommanagementtechniques.

Weappreciateyourwillingnesstoconsiderourrequestandwelookforwardtoworkingtogether
withyoutoensurethatfamiliesandschoolsdeveloppartnershipsbasedonhighquality,accurate
informationsothatthemillionsofstudentswithdyslexia,dyscalculiaanddysgraphiareceivethe
evidencebasedinstructionandinterventionsneededtosucceedinschoolandlife.
Sincerely,
ACCSES
AssociationofUniversityCentersonDisabilities
BrainInjuryAssociationofAmerica
CouncilforLearningDisabilities
CouncilofParentAttorneysandAdvocates
InstituteforEducationalLeadership
LearningDisabilitiesAssociationofAmerica
NationalCenterforLearningDisabilities
NationalDownSyndromeCongress