Dyslexia Bills Passed This Legislative Session

We can finally celebrate! HB2379, SB635, and SB638 have all passed and will head to the Governor’s desk. These bills contain dyslexia language. Thanks to Representative Swan, Representative Burlison, and Senator Sifton for your tireless work this legislative session on behalf of kids with dyslexia in MO. A special thanks also goes to Jewell Patek and David Winton for helping us in the legislature. And of course we owe a debt of gratitude to all of the legislators that voted in favor of these bills and helped move forward the dyslexia legislation.

All of the bills contain the same language (as it pertains to dyslexia) and include dyslexia screening, teacher training, and the Dyslexia Task Force. Once the Governor signs the bills, they will become laws! Yeah!!!

This is an excerpt from HB2379’s Bill Summary:

“This bill requires each public school to screen students for dyslexia and related disorders at appropriate times in accordance with rules established by the State Board of Education. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) must develop guidelines for the appropriate screening of students and the necessary classroom supports. The requirements and guidelines must be consistent with the findings and recommendations of the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia, which is also created by this bill.

The school board of each district and governing board of each charter school must provide reasonable support consistent with the guidelines developed by DESE. “Related disorders” are defined as disorders similar to or related to dyslexia, such as developmental auditory imperception, dysphasia, specific developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.

Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, practicing teacher assistance programs will include two hours of in-service training regarding dyslexia and related disorders.

This bill establishes the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia. The task force consists of 21 specified members including two members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and two members appointed by the President Pro Tem of the Senate. The task force must meet quarterly and make recommendations to the Governor, the Joint Committee on Education, and specified state agencies. The task force will make recommendations for a statewide system for identification, intervention, and delivery of supports for students with dyslexia including the development of resource materials, professional development activities, and proposed legislation.

The task force authorized under these provisions will expire on August 31, 2018.”

Be sure to thank your legislators for voting for these bills (legislator lookup) along with the Sponsors of all of the Dyslexia Bills (Senator Sifton, Representative Swan, and Representative Burlison).  These legislators also deserve special recognition:  Speaker RichardsonRepresentative Jones, Senator Kehoe, Senator Romine, Senator Onder, Senator Brown, and Representative Lair.

Don’t forget to write Governor Nixon and ask him to sign these bills into law: https://governor.mo.gov/get-involved/contact-the-governors-office.


Dyslexia Bills Filed in the House and the Senate

Senator Sifton, Representative Burlison, and Representative Swan have filed Dyslexia Bills.

Senator Sifton filed three Senate Bills.  Two of the Senate bills are related: SB827 and  SB633.  SB633 is an omnibus bill that address a wide range of education issues in our State.  SB633 establishes the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia and the hiring of a Dyslexia Specialist.  The other bill, SB827,  establishes the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia as a standalone bill. A third Senate bill, SB809, requires each public school to screen students for dyslexia and related disorders. SB827 had a Hearing in the Education Committee on February 10. Thank you Senator Sifton!  You can send him a thank you here.

Represenative Burlison filed HB1928, which would establish the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia and also requires DESE to hire a Dyslexia Specialist.  HB 1928 had a Hearing in the Education Committee on February 8.  Be sure to thank Representative Burlison in an email here.

Representative Swan filed HB2379, which requires public schools to screen student for dyslexia and related disorders.  You can send her a thank you here.  HB2379 has a Hearing in the Education Committee on February 15.  We are very fortunate to have these legislators working on behalf of kids with dyslexia in  Missouri!

We encourage you to contact your own Legislators to support these important bills.  You can look up your MO Representative via your zip code here and your MO Senator here.  Or perhaps you’d like to thanks the member of the House and Senate Education Committee.  You can do so here for the Senate Education Committee or here for the House Education Committee.  By sending a letter, email or making a phone call, they will know that dyslexia legislation matters in their district.

If you have any questions related to this legislation, please feel free to reach out on our Contact Us page.  Thank you!


US and MO Department of Education Issue Guidance on Dyslexia

Have you had problems getting your child’s School District to use the term “dyslexia”?  You aren’t alone.  These letters may help!  Be sure to share them with your child’s teachers, administrators, and his or her IEP team.  #SAYDYSLEXIA

DDMO DESE Dyslexia IEP opinion letter

US Dept of Ed guidance-on-dyslexia-10-2015

Interview with Michel Yudin, US Dept of Education

On October 23, 2015, the US Department of Education released their letter of guidance on dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. The following is a summary of the letter and how it may apply to Missouri families and students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

Background: Dyslexia stakeholders, including Decoding Dyslexia Missouri, reported to the United States Department of Education (USDOE) that State and Local Education Agencies (SEAs/LEAs) routinely refuse to use the word dyslexia and often refuse to screen/ identify, provide interventions for and/or educate teachers about dyslexia, dysgraphia (writing) and dyscalculia (math) disabilities. The DOE guidance document, linked here, responds to stakeholder complaints, including all 50 Decoding Dyslexia State Groups, and provides guidance to the State and Local Education Agency responsible for implementing both Response to Intervention (RtI –whole class/Tier I and small group/Tier II) and special education programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA).


1. It’s Okay to Say Dyslexia! The purpose of the letter from the DOE is to clarify that there is nothing in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents.” (Guidance Letter page 1, paragraph 1)

2. IDEA Includes Dyslexia as a Specific Learning Disability and Evaluations Can Consider Disabilities like Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia. The guidance letter references the definition of specific learning disability in the IDEA, which includes the term dyslexia and says that school districts should conduct evaluations for students with difficulty reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia), spelling (dyslexia, dysgraphia) and/or math concepts (dyscalculia) in accordance with 34 CFR Para. 300.304-300.311, evaluation procedures, IDEA. (Guidance letter page 1, paragraph 2)

3. Students Who Struggle with Reading, Writing and Math in the General Education Setting Can be Identified Using Response To Intervention (RTI) and Multi Tiered System of Support (MTSS). The guidance letter reiterates that students who are at risk for reading failure and who struggle to read, write, spell and Decoding Dyslexia – MO Educate. Advocate. Legislate. Decoding Dyslexia – MO Educate. Advocate. Legislate. understand math concepts can receive interventions through Response to Intervention (RTI) and a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). The guidance further clarifies that RTI and MTSS can be used to address the specific learning needs of students with learning differences in the areas, of reading, math, writing. (Guidance Letter page 1, paragraph 3 & 4)

4. If a Student Doesn’t Respond to RTI/MTSS, Refer them for an Evaluation for Special Education. Students who receive “scientific-research based interventions” using RTI or MTSS and who don’t respond to the interventions “must be” referred for an evaluation to determine if they are eligible for special education and related services. RTI and MTSS cannot be used to delay or deny a full evaluation for a student suspected of having a disability. (Guidance letter page 2, paragraph 1)

5. Information about a Child’s Difficulties with Reading, Math and/or Writing, including Information Presented by the Parents, is Important to Determine the Child’s Disability and Educational Needs.
a. The guidance says that when determining whether a child has a disability under the IDEA, including a specific learning disability, and is eligible to receive special education and related services because of that disability, the school district must conduct a comprehensive evaluation under Sec. 300.304, which requires the use of a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child.
b. It further states that information provided by parents with regard to reading, writing, and math must be considered as a part of the requirement “to gather relevant functional, developmental and academic information about the child” including information on the child’s learning difficulties related to reading, mathematics or writing. (Guidance Letter p.2, paragraph 2)
c. NOTE: If you are a parent and you notice your student struggles with reading, writing and/or math at home, this is information that should be included in the eligibility determination along with what’s going on in the classroom.

6. A Child Who Achieves Below Peers and/or Is Not On Grade Level Should be Evaluated. The guidance says that if a student is not achieving adequately for the child’s age or to meet grade level standards, this information should be considered for eligibility. (Guidance Letter p.2, paragraph 1)

7. If a Child’s Eligibility includes Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and/or Dyscalculia, Nothing Prohibits including these Specific Conditions in the Eligibility Determination. (Guidance Letter p. 2, Paragraph 2)

8. The Terms Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia Can Be Used in the IEP. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) reiterates that there is nothing in the IDEA or the implementing regulations that would prohibit IEP Teams from referencing or using the terms “dyslexia”, “dyscalculia”, or “dysgraphia” in a child’s IEP. (Guidance Letter p.3, paragraph 1)

9. If Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and/or Dysgraphia is the Disability, the Team Should Learn About It so It Can be Addressed in the IEP. “OSERS believes there could be situations where an IEP team could determine that personnel responsible for IEP implementation would need to know about the condition underlying the child’s disability (e.g. that a child has a weakness in decoding skills as a result of the child’s dyslexia.)”

10.Ensure that Regular Education Teachers Are Informed about the Child’s IEP, its Implementation and Specific Accommodations, Modifications and Supports that Must be Provided. (Guidance Letter page 3, paragraph 1)

11.Information on Commonly Used Accommodations in the Classroom for Students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia Should Be Provided to State and Local Education Agencies. OSERS lists a number of resources to find such accommodations and recommends that states access the DOE Technical Assistance Centers that develop materials and resources to support States, school districts, schools and teachers. (Guidance Letter page 3, paragraph 2).

12.OSERS encourages the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to review their policies, procedures and practices to ensure that it does not prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia in evaluations, eligibility and IEP documents. (Guidance Letter page 4, paragraph 1)

13.OSERS encourages Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to remind its local school districts 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. (Guidance Letter page 4, paragraph 1) Decoding Dyslexia – MO Educate. Advocate. Legislate.

DD-MO’s efforts are recognized in an article that ran in Jefferson City’s News Tribune

The News Tribune recently published the articleDyslexia Dilemma: Parents, educators given ‘tools’ to cope with disorder”.  The article discusses what dyslexia is and how families struggle to get the services they need.

This information was presented by Anita Kuttenkuler, a retired teacher and dyslexia tutor, at a recent Decoding Dyslexia-MO educational event.  Ms. Kuttenkuler also led a dyslexia simulation.

The News Tribune article also mentions Decoding Dyslexia’s recent efforts to get a dyslexia bill passed in the Missouri legislature.

Read the entire article

“Hill Day” planned for January 18

Please join us on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 for the second annual Decoding Dyslexia MO “Hill Day”!  Below is the itinerary with planned events and opportunities for you to meet your legislators and other DD-MO Members from around the State.  If you are able to attend this event, be sure to RSVP to jedwards@decodingdyslexia-mo.org so that we will be able to provide you with name tags, a luncheon, and other information/items for this event.

“Hill Day” Itinerary:

One week prior to the event – Make appointments to meet with your Legislators to meet in their office.  You can find contact information for your House Representative here and your Senator here.  Appointments are not necessary but, if you would feel more comfortable by scheduling an appointment then please do so. Please note:    Session and hearing times may not be determined prior to this date and offices may not be scheduling appointments.

On “Hill Day”:
9 am – 12 pm and 1 pm – 4 pm  Rotunda Table Hours — Our tables will be located on the third floor rotunda area on the House side.  Check in and collect name tags and other items for yourself and members of your family before heading off to meet your Legislators.  (We will be distributing “Talking Points” about important information to discuss in advance via email or on our Facebook pages that you can print at home for your use when speaking with your Legislators.)  DDMO Leaders from around the State will be on hand to answer questions and provide encouragement.

12 pm – 1 pm  DDMO Member Luncheon.  Join us in House of Representatives Hearing Room #6 to meet and socialize with other DDMO members from around the State.  There will be members of the legislature, Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia members and DDMO members on hand.  We will have a brief Powerpoint presentation to update you on all of the current activities of DDMO across the state.

Optional Tour of The Capitol.   If you would like to take a quick tour of the Capital while you are there, you can stop by the tour desk on the first floor of the Capital.  They last approximately 45 minutes.  More information can be found here.  You can also peruse the Missouri State Museum also found on the first floor, with our without a tour guide.

4pm – Safe Travels Home!  Hopefully, you will be enjoying a safe and relaxing ride back home knowing that you have participated in creating new and meaningful legislation for the dyslexic students in our State!

If you have any questions about “Hill Day”, please contact jedwards@decodingdyslexia-mo.org.   Interested in helping plan this event?  Join our Facebook group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/237742459716015/

We look forward to seeing you in Jefferson City!

Four Dyslexia Bills Introduced in the Missouri Legislature

Representative Burlison, Representative Wood, and Senator Sifton have been working hard on behalf of kids with dyslexia in Jefferson City.  Representative Burlison introduced HB921 and Senator Sifton introduced SB548 that creates the “Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia” and requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to employ a dyslexia specialist and develop professional development programs for schools.  Representative Wood and Senator Sifton introduced HB731 and SB468 that requires each public school to test students for dyslexia and related disorders and provide treatment.  Thank you Representative Burlison, Representative Wood, and Senator Sifton!

Learn more about the bills here by entering the word “dyslexia” into the search bar:


Governor Nixon signs HB1614

Great news for Missouri families- Governor Nixon signed HB1614!  HB1614 adds dyslexia to Bryce’s Law.  Bryce’s Law establishes a scholarship fund for students whose needs aren’t being met by public schools.  Under Bryce’s law, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will be required to oversee the establishment of a scholarship fund and will also approve and monitor scholarship-granting organizations in the State.  DESE will also be required to set up a website with a list of resources for parents.  Regulations will be written over the next year so students can benefit as soon as the 2015-2016 school year.  Adequate scholarships will require donations, so please think about whether or not your family or perhaps your employer can make a gift to one of the scholarship funds.  Details about how to donate will be available by the 2015-2016 school year.  Details about how children with dyslexia can apply for scholarships will be available then, too.

Senator Sifton Introduces A Dyslexia Bill In The Senate

Great news for Missouri families! Senator Scott Sifton sponsored Senate Bill 984 that will define “Dyslexia” in the State Code and also require the Department of Education to hire a dyslexia specialist to oversee professional development and the creation of a Dyslexia Resource Guide.   This is an important first step for Missouri families that have a child struggling with a diagnosis of dyslexia.

Please let Senator Sifton know that you appreciate his work on this important bill.  You can click here to email him directly.

Share you enthusiasm about this bill with your local legislator, too.  Click here to find your local legislator.  Your Senatorial district will be listed first.  Click on your legislator’s name and a link to their email can be found on the left hand side of their home page.

Sample of email to Senator Sifton:

Dear Senator Sifton,
Our family has faced many challenges as a result of our child’s diagnosis of dyslexia.  Our greatest challenge, however, has been trying to get our child the services they need in a public school setting.   Thank you for sponsoring Senate Bill 984.
The Smith Family


Dear Senator Sifton,
Thank you for sponsoring Senate Bill 984.  Your work on this issue will raise the awareness needed to bring about change for kids with dyslexia in Missouri.
Jane Smith

Sample of an email to your local legislator:

Dear Senator,
Our family has faced many challenges as a result of our child’s diagnosis of dyslexia.  Our greatest challenge, however, has been trying to get our child the services they need in a public school setting.  Please support Senate Bill 984 which defines “Dyslexia”  and requires the Department of Education to hire a Dyslexia Specialist to oversee professional development and the creation of a Dyslexia Resource Guide.  These changes are needed to ensure children with dyslexia are better served in public schools.
The Smith Family


Dear Senator,
Please support Senate Bill 984.  Children with dyslexia are not adequately served by Missorui public schools.
Jane Smith

Great news for Missouri families dealing with dyslexia!

Representative Eric Burlison was able to add dyslexia to the special needs section of House Bill 1614 (known as “Bryce’s Law”). This could provide much needed financial relief for some MO families, and it definitely raises the awareness of dyslexia at the state level.

If you would like to follow the progress of this bill, register at Legiscan for updates and bill tracking information.


Dyslexia Resolution Submitted

WASHINGTON –  Congressmen Bill Cassidy, M.D., the Co-Chair of the House Dyslexia Caucus, submitted a resolution H.RES.456 calling for the House to acknowledge the impact of dyslexia and urge schools and educational agencies to address its impact on students. Dr. Cassidy released the following statement:


“Dyslexia affects millions of Americans, including many students. We know that many with dyslexia are among our brightest and most successful. If dyslexia is identified in elementary school and the appropriate resources are given to these children, America can produce more teachers, more scientists and more entrepreneurs. This resolution pushes schools and educational agencies to address this challenge and provide evidence-based solutions for dyslexic students.”

Please click Cassidy House Dyslexia Resolution January 10 2014 to read the pdf version of the resolution H.RES.456.

Please contact your  Representative and ask him/her to support the Dyslexia Resolution that Congressman Cassidy introduced in the House today and to join the Bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus.

Hopefully this will be the impetus for eventually enacting national dyslexia legislation.