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Abstract

Developmental dyslexia is among the most common neurobehavioral disorders in children, a ffecting approximately 8.5 million students across the United States (Bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, 2015). Despite its prevalence as a language disorder characterized by impaired reading ability, researchers have struggled to define dyslexia, contributing to variability across state-level educational policies on dyslexia and preventing students with the disorder from being identified, and ultimately receiving appropriate intervention services. Although federal policies have indicated greater recognition of dyslexia over time, continued use of the term “specialized learning disability (SLD)” in those policies as an umbrella term for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities may subject students with dyslexia to educational interventions that are not specific to their disorder, jeopardizing their educational achievement. Three federal policy recommendations are presented here to support the needs of students with dyslexia. First, the recent passage of the Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act (READ Act) is commendable, but policymakers should ensure that dyslexia is recognized beyond the category of “specific learning disability.” Next, the Bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus should support development of a best practices guide for educators that bridges dyslexia research and practice. Finally, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act should be amended to ensure America’s predominant special education law recognizes and addresses the needs of students with dyslexia. Collectively, these recommendations should help identify and support students with dyslexia across the United States by recognizing their unique educational needs, allowing them to read and achieve in the classroom and beyond.

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