Dyslexia and Related Disorders

Framework (What’s Required):

Persons Responsible:


Methods (What We Do):

  • Dyslexia" means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity TEC 38.003(d)(1). Because early intervention is critical, a program for early identification, intervention, and support for students with dyslexia and related disorders must be available in each district as outlined in the Dyslexia Handbook Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders, 19 TAC 74.28(g), TEC 38.003(b) and TEC 38.003(c).

    The board of trustees of a school district must ensure that procedures for identifying a student with dyslexia or a related disorder are implemented in the district 19 TAC 74.28(a) and TEC 38.003(c). A school district's strategies for screening dyslexia and related disorders must be implemented in accordance with the Dyslexia Handbook Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders. A school district's techniques for treating dyslexia and related disorders must be implemented in accordance with the Dyslexia Handbook Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders. Screening should only be done by individuals/professionals who are trained to assess students for dyslexia and related disorders 19 TAC 74.28(b).

    Students who experience characteristics consistent with dyslexia or related disorders such as dyscalculia, and dysgraphia may be identified under the Texas dyslexia law, Section 504, and/or special education.

    Dyslexia is characterized by a difficulty in the development of:

    • phonemic awareness - the ability to identify and combine sounds that make up words (e.g., “mad” as /m/a/d/)
    • sound manipulation - moving or changing individual sounds in a word (e.g., change “mad” to “bad”)
    • single word decoding – the ability to read single words in isolation (without context)
    • reading fluency - the ability to read quickly and accurately to increase comprehension
    • spelling - the ability to name or write letters in correct sequence to form words

    Dyscalculia is a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculia learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence (The Dyslexia Center - DfES 2001).

    Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects the act of writing and often leads to difficulties in organizing letters, spelling, handwriting, and/or putting thoughts on paper. Dysgraphia can often result from visual-spatial and language processing deficits.

    Support for students demonstrating these types of reading difficulties may be provided through Response to Intervention (RtI), Section 504, or special education.

    • The use of a tiered intervention process should not delay or deny an evaluation for dyslexia, especially when parent or teacher observations reveal the common characteristics of dyslexia.
    • Students suspected of having dyslexia should receive support through the campus RtI process during the evaluation process.
    • While earlier is better, students should be recommended for assessment for dyslexia even if the reading difficulties appear later in a student’s school career. (Dyslexia Handbook Revised 2014)

    The campus Evaluation Specialist maintains responsibility for identification of dyslexia and related disorders for students referred to Section 504 and special education. 

    Before an identification or assessment procedure is used selectively with an individual student, a district shall notify the student’s parent or guardian or another person standing in parental relation to the student.

    Dyslexia Screening:

    The IAT team makes the determination about whether or not enough data exists to move forward with a referral based on the following:           

    • Reading Renaissance 360 – if the student scores in the 25th percentile or below on grade level comprehension, this is a risk factor.
    • STAR Early Literacy – administered to identify dyslexia markers (Based on TEC section 28.006 and HB1886, HISD uses STAR Early Literacy to screen all students in grades K, 1, 2, and 7)
    • Quick Phonics Screener – this can be done by Classroom teacher, dyslexia interventionist, campus-based dyslexia evaluator or diagnostician
    • Writing samples and/or math computation work samples
    • State Assessment Results (if available) - do not use as a sole determining data point
    • Family History of Dyslexia
    • Historical Data (i.e. history of a deficit and/or intervention in the area of phonemic awareness)

    Screening should be done only by individuals who are trained to assess students for dyslexia and related disorders.

    In addition, due to the strong research-based correlation between speech-language impairments and dyslexia; Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) in Houston ISD are trained to recognize dyslexia markers. When warranted, SLPs screens students on their caseload using a specific screening protocol.  The SLP then submits the request for a referral to the IAT team.  A student who fails the screening administered by the SLP should be evaluated for dyslexia.      

    Dyslexia Identification:

    If the child is experiencing difficulties in reading and dyslexia is suspected, the IAT team should proceed with a referral for a formal dyslexia evaluation.

    The IAT team should determine if the child needs a 504 evaluation or special education evaluation.  The IAT team should take into consideration the educational impact of the difficulties the child is experiencing when determining which evaluation track to follow.  When unsure, the IAT team should recommend a special education evaluation to ensure the most thorough assessment.

    If the student’s profile is consistent with an identification of dyslexia, then the 504 committee meets and determines if the child meets eligibility. 

    • If the child is determined eligible as a student with dyslexia only, he/she will now be served in Section 504.
    • If the child does not qualify as having a disability, he/she will return to RtI
    • If the child is determined eligible as a student with dyslexia but the evaluation indicated greater needs than Section 504 can support, the child can be referred for a special education evaluation.

    If the educational impact warrants consideration for special education, a Full and Individual Evaluation (FIE) is completed by the educational diagnostician.  The educational diagnostician determines if the child has a disability condition of specific learning disability, specific learning disability together with dyslexia, dyslexia alone, or no disability. 

    • If the child is determined to have as a specific learning disability, the ARD committee will determine eligibility and decide if there is a need for special education services. he/she will now qualify for an IEP and be serviced through the special education department.
    • If the child is determined to have a specific learning disability together with dyslexia, the ARD committee will determine eligibility and decide if there is a need for special education services. he/she will now qualify for an IEP and be serviced through the special education department.
    • If the child’s profile is consistent with an identification of dyslexia alone and does not indicate a disability condition of a specific learning disability, then the Section 504 Committee will determine eligibility and services under Section 504.
    • If the child is not determined to have a disability, he/she will return to the RtI process.


    The following figure from the Dyslexia Handbook, Revised 2014, provides examples of cumulative data that campus may consider in establishing or ruling out dyslexia.

    Dyslexia Reevaluation:

    “Dyslexia is a lifelong condition.  However, with proper help, many people with dyslexia can learn to read and write well.  Early identification and treatment is the key to helping individuals with dyslexia achieve in school and in life.”  (The International Dyslexia Association)

    TEC §38.003(a) was passed in 1985 to ensure that students enrolling in public schools in this state are tested for dyslexia and related disorders. In 2011, Senate Bill 866 added into law Subsection (b-1) to ensure that districts consider previously collected data before reevaluating students already identified as having dyslexia.

    TEC §38.003(b-1) reads as follows:                                                                    

    Unless otherwise provided by law, a student determined to have dyslexia during testing under or accommodated because of dyslexia may not be retested for dyslexia for the purpose of reassessing the student’s need for accommodations until the district reevaluates the information obtained from previous testing of the student.

    There are many initiatives, programs, assessments, and data available for use in identification, placement, and program planning for students, including ELLs, who struggle with dyslexia. Assessment and ongoing progress monitoring are key components that must be considered by trained personnel. (The Dyslexia Handbook, Revised  2014)

    In the case of students with Dyslexia, reevaluation does not mean that evaluation personnel are to reestablish the identification of Dyslexia, but rather utilize the reevaluation process to notate progress or lack thereof.  More specifically, when reevaluating a student with Dyslexia, evaluation personnel should consider data collected in the following areas:

    • Historical data on dyslexia services provided (i.e. type, duration and frequency)
    • Progress on interventions/curriculum
    • Student grades, state and local assessment scores 
    • Teacher Input on student’s challenges, functional  classroom performance, progress, and needs
    • Parent Input on student’s challenges and needs, along with any outside support provided
    • Achievement in areas of reading, writing, and/or spelling

    Evaluation personnel should generate a report within FIE Writer including the data listed above.  Within the reevaluation report, evaluation personnel should include: 1) a confirmation statement that the student continues to meet dyslexia criteria; AND 2) references to the data of the initial eligibility report.

    Dyslexia Services:

    Each school shall provide each identified student access at his or her campus to instructional programs required at Reading Program, below, and to the services of a teacher trained in dyslexia and related disorders. A district may, with the approval of each student’s parents or guardians, offer additional services at a centralized location, but centralized services shall not preclude each student from receiving services at his or her campus.

    A district shall purchase a reading program or develop its own reading program that is aligned with the descriptors in the Dyslexia Handbook.

    Houston ISD has partnered with the Neuhaus Education Center to ensure that each Dyslexia Interventionist is trained with the Basic Language Skills Program to serve all students identified with Dyslexia.

    The Basic Language Skills Program ensures teachers who provide services to these students are trained in the instructional strategies that utilize individualized, intensive, multisensory, phonetic methods and a variety of writing and spelling components described in the Dyslexia Handbook.  The two year training that is required for a Dyslexia Interventionist is outlined below:

    Dyslexia Curriculum - Year 1:

    Prerequisite – Reading Readiness – 1 day class

    Basic Language Skills – Introductory – Book 1 (gets a student to approximately the end of Grade 2) – 10 day class

    • Follow Up Book 1A Workshop – 1 day class
    • Follow Up Book 1B Workshop – 1 day class

    Dyslexia Curriculum - Year 2


    • Multisensory Grammar – 1 day class
    • Developing Metacognitive Skills – 2 day class

    Basic Language Skills – Advanced- Book 2 – 10 day class

    • Follow Up Book 2 Workshop – 1 day class

    After a Dyslexia Interventionist has almost completed Book 2, they must attended the following:

    • Written Composition – 1 day class
    • Developing Vocabulary for Reading Success (on line 3hrs)
    • Spelling Development Webinar (CEU’s on demand - 2hrs)

    Basic Language Skills – Book 3 – 1 day                                                                                       

    High School Dyslexia Intervention and Beyond (Monitoring):

    • Unexpected Underachievement – 1 day          
    • Accurate and Automatic Reading – 1 day      
    • Developing Metacognitive Skills – 2 days          
    • Neuhaus Academy – 1 day                                   
    • Written Composition – 1 day                     

    Parent Training and Notice: 

    The district shall provide a parent education program for parents and guardians of students with dyslexia and related disorders. This program should include awareness of characteristics of dyslexia and related disorders; information on testing and diagnosis of dyslexia; information on effective strategies for teaching dyslexic students; and awareness of information on modifications, especially modifications allowed on standardized testing.

    Education Code 38.003; 19 TAC 74.28

    Each school year, the district shall notify a parent of each child, other than a child enrolled in a special education program under Education Code Chapter 29, Subchapter A, who receives assistance from the district for learning difficulties, including through the use of intervention strategies that the district provides that assistance to the child.

    The notice must:

    1. Be provided when the child begins to receive the assistance for that school year;
    2. Be written in English or, to the extent practicable, the parent’s native language;
    3. Include:
    1. A reasonable description of the assistance that may be provided to the child, including any intervention strategies that may be used;
    2. Information collected regarding any intervention in the base tier of a multi-tiered system of supports that has previously been used with the child;
    3. An estimate of the duration for which the assistance, including through the use of intervention strategies, will be provided:
    4. The estimated time frames within which a report on the child’s progress with the assistance, including any intervention strategies used, will be provided to the parent; and
    5. A copy of the explanation provided under Education Code 26.0081(c). [See FB]

    This required notice may be provided to a child’s parent at a meeting of the team established for the child under Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Section 794), if applicable.

    Education Code 26.0081(d), (e)

    “Intervention strategy” means a strategy in a multi-tiered system of supports that is above the level of intervention generally used in that system with all children. The term includes response to intervention and other early intervening strategies. Education Code 26.004(a

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