Prepare for Additional Changes Related to Dyslexia Evaluation and Instruction in 2023-2024
HB 3928, also known as the Beckley Wilson Act, is waiting to be signed by the Governor after passing the House and Senate. The bill originated from a parent-led, grassroots group named Texas Dyslexia Coalition and was strongly supported by other disability advocacy groups across the state. Although the message behind the bill was that it was intended to codify the Dyslexia Handbook and provide clarity for schools, the original bill contained significantly more onerous requirements for districts. With the work and collaboration of groups like TCASE and the voices of special education staff and evaluators, the final bill resulted in something more workable and agreeable for all. Here are the highlights.
Dyslexia –> IDEA
The bill continues the push to move dyslexia instruction from Section 504 to the IDEA. Specifically, the bill states that dyslexia is an example of and meets the definition of a specific learning disability under the IDEA. But it also provides that there shall be no distinction between standard protocol dyslexia instruction and specially designed instruction. Accordingly, a student with a diagnosis of dyslexia and a need for instruction that is specific to dyslexia will qualify for an IEP.
If a district suspects a student may have dyslexia and be a child with a disability under the IDEA, the district must comply with federal and state requirements regarding any evaluation, including requirements in the Dyslexia Handbook. Additionally, if a student is evaluated for dyslexia or a related disorder, the district must also evaluate the student in any other areas of suspected disability. Those requirements are not really new. The new step is to provide a form – developed by TEA – to the parent explaining their rights under the IDEA that may be additional to their rights under Section 504. Here the legislature seems to be setting up procedures to encourage parents to consent to an IDEA evaluation and accept an IEP.
Specialized Team Member
The multidisciplinary evaluation team and the team determining eligibility must include at least one member with specific knowledge regarding the reading process, dyslexia and related disorders, and dyslexia instruction. That team member must be a licensed dyslexia therapist or hold the most advanced dyslexia-related certification issued by an association recognized by TEA – or if someone with those qualifications is not available, someone who has met the applicable training requirements set by TEA. Further, that team member must sign a document describing their participation in the evaluation and any resulting IEP.
The bill provides that, at least once per grading period (or more frequently if specified in the IEP), the district must provide the student’s parent with information regarding the student’s progress as a result of receiving dyslexia instruction. The IEP progress report will likely meet this requirement. The bill also requires that a provider of dyslexia instruction to students with dyslexia must be fully trained in the district’s adopted instructional materials for students with dyslexia. The instructor is not required to hold a certificate or permit in special education unless employed in a position that requires the certification.
Districts will need to adopt and implement a policy requiring the district to comply with all rules and standards adopted by TEA, including the Dyslexia Handbook, and guidance published by the commissioner.
Seemingly unrelated to dyslexia, the bill provides that when a student is placed in a DAEP and as part of the personalized transition plan when a student returns from a DAEP, the district must provide the student’s parent information regarding the process for requesting a full individual and initial evaluation of the student. Districts may expect to see an increased number of requests for evaluation when students are placed in a DAEP. Note, however, that unless the district previously suspected that the student may have a disability, the parent’s request does not stop or delay the DAEP placement.
If you have questions about these new requirements or other special education issues, please contact the authors of this article or any member of our Team.