You Asked! Question 7

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Q7:  My student’s reading is slow but accurate. However, his/her spelling is extremely poor.  Is the school required to consider deficits in spelling in assessing for Special Education eligibility? Can he/she still be dyslexic?

A:  California criteria specifically states that an impaired ability to read, write or spell should be considered in determining whether a student has a Specific Learning Disability for purposes of determining Special Education eligibility (Source: CA Education Code Section 56337(a)).

Almost all people with developmental reading or language disabilities have great difficulty spelling. In the definition of dyslexia, people with the condition known as dyslexia are noted to have “conspicuous” problems with spelling and writing. People can also have specific spelling disabilities — that is, they can be poor spellers, even though they are pretty good readers.  (Source:  The International Dyslexia Association).  To download a complete copy of the International Dyslexia Association’s Fact Sheet on Spelling, click HERE.

Also note that while reading “accuracy is critical early on, the ability to read fluently gains in importance as the child matures. A child who reads accurately but not fluently is dyslexic”. (Source:  Shaywitz, S. E. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level. Knopf, page 133)

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You Asked! Question 8

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Q8:  IEP Team states they don’t use the terms “dyslexia”, “dysgraphia” or “dyscalculia” in student’s IEP.  What can I do?

A:  IDEA requires that the IEP Team tailor specially designed instruction to specifically meet the individual needs of the student.  As Specific Learning Disability is an umbrella term, the IEP Team needs to carefully document all areas of deficits.  If the student exhibits characteristics of dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia it is important that these areas of need are specified in the IEP.

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) encourages States to review their policies, procedures and practices to ensure that they do not prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia in evaluations, eligibility, and IEP documents.  Finally, in ensuring the provision of Free and Appropriate Public Education, USDOE stressed the importance of addressing the unique educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities resulting from dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia during IEP meetings and other meetings with parents under IDEA (Source: OSERS Dear Colleague Letter October 23rd, 2015).  To download a complete copy of this letter, click HERE.

In addition, under the California Education Code Section 56334, deficits in phonological processing need to be identified as part of special education eligibility requirements. A deficit in phonological awareness is viewed as the hallmark of reading disability or dyslexia (Source: The Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing 2nd Edition Examiners Manual by Richard K. Wagner et al. page 37). It is critical that the IEP team note deficits in phonological processing in the IEP in order to determine the individualized intervention for the student.

 

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