Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Dyslexia Guidance for Special Education: 2021

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Learning Services
Regulatory Authority
Response Required
Federal Programs; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; Principals; Curriculum Coordinators; School Counselors; Equity Coordinators (Disability/Race/Gender/National Origin); District Coordinators (ALE; Homeless; ESOL; SDFS & Foster)

Primary Contact Information

Secondary Contact/s Information

Memo Reference

No references available.

Memo Text

Dyslexia Guidance for Special Education

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued a Dear Colleague letter on October 23, 2015, to state and local educational agencies. This letter focuses on the “unique educational needs of children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, which are conditions that could qualify a child as a child with a specific learning disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).” OSERs clarifies in the letter that “there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) documents.” State education agencies and local education agencies are encouraged to “consider situations where it would be appropriate to use the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia to describe and address the child’s unique, identified needs through evaluation, eligibility, and IEP documents.” Further, States are encouraged to “review their policies, procedures, and practices to ensure that they do not prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia in evaluations, eligibility, and IEP documents.”

OSERS provides further clarification, however, that “regardless of whether a child has dyslexia or any other condition explicitly included in this definition of ‘specific learning disability,’ or has a condition such as dyscalculia or dysgraphia not listed expressly in the definition, the local education agency (LEA) must conduct an evaluation in accordance with 34 CFR §§300.304-300.311 to determine whether that child meets the criteria for specific learning disability or any of the other disabilities listed in 34 CFR §300.8, which implements IDEA’s definition of a ‘child with a disability.’”

Finally, States are encouraged to “remind their LEAs of the importance of addressing the unique educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities resulting from dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia during IEP team meetings and other meetings with parents under IDEA.”

DESE joins OSERS and recommends that LEAs use these terms, when appropriate, to describe and address a child’s unique needs in evaluation, eligibility, and IEP documents. DESE further recommends that LEAs review their policies, procedures, and practices to ensure that they do not prohibit the use of dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia in special education due process paperwork. Finally, DESE recommends that LEAs address the unique educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities resulting from dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia during IEP team meetings and other meetings with parents under IDEA.

Under Ark. Code Ann. § 6-41-601 et seq., LEAs are required to provide dyslexia intervention services to all students who exhibit the characteristics of dyslexia, including students with IEPs. The IEP committee would determine, based on the student’s individual needs, the setting in which appropriately trained personnel will provide dyslexia intervention. The intervention may be delivered in the general education setting, the special education setting, or in a combination of the two.

Use of IDEA funds for dyslexia services

IDEA Part B funds can be used for dyslexia intervention delivered through the IEP.  Additionally, IDEA specifies that an LEA may use up to 15% of its IDEA Part B entitlement for early intervention services for any child in kindergarten through grade 12 who is not currently identified as needing special education or related services, but who needs additional academic and behavioral supports to succeed in a general education environment. These funds are to be used as supplementary funds and should not be used to supplant local, state, or other federal program dollars.

Dyslexia Information

“Dyslexia” is characterized by difficulties with:

  • accurate word recognition,
  • fluent word recognition,
  • poor spelling, or
  • decoding abilities.

These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language and are often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities.  Many students with IEPs will have deficits in these areas and will require dyslexia intervention. Dyslexia intervention must be provided by a trained dyslexia interventionist for all students exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia.

Additional information regarding dyslexia can be found on the DESE dyslexia webpage. The Dyslexia Resource Guide includes information regarding special education and dyslexia intervention services. 


Print Memo

Share this memo