Governor Nixon Signed Dyslexia Legislation

It is official!  Governor Nixon signed House Bill 2379 and Senate Bill 638 on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 2pm in Springfield at the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC) Head Start location at 552 N Stewart Avenue, Springfield, MO.   There was a celebratory reception at 3:30pm hosted by the Springfield Center for Dyslexia and Learning located at 100 East Primrose St., Suite 530, Springfield, MO 65807.

By December 31, 2017, this act requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop guidelines for the appropriate screening of students for dyslexia and related disorders and to develop the necessary classroom support for such students.  Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, each public school including charter schools, shall conduct dyslexia screenings and provide reasonable classroom support consistent with the guidelines developed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Additionally, practicing teacher assistance programs shall include two hours of in-service training regarding dyslexia and related disorder provided by each school district for all practicing teachers.  Such training shall count as two contact hours of professional development.

This act also creates the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia.  The Task Force will advise and make recommendations to the Governor, Joint Committee on Education, and relevant state agencies.  The TAsk Force will consist of twenty members, as described in the act.  Except for four legislative members and the Commissioner of Education, the members will be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  The Task Force will make recommendations for a statewide system for identification, intervention, and delivery of supports for students with dyslexia, as described in the act.

This is a tremendous step forward for public school students in MO!



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:


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

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.

October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month!

Organizations across the country are promoting dyslexia awareness.  We invite you to check out the many ways to get involved and promote awareness.  The perfect place to start?  Join the Decoding Dyslexia-MO movement, of course!  Scroll down to find more ways to get involved.
Join The Decoding Dyslexia-MO Movement
Are you passionate about raising dyslexia awareness and empowering families to support their children with dyslexia?  Would you like to help inform policy-makers on the state of dyslexia in MO schools?  Then we need you as a member!

Becoming a member is simple.  There are no dues or fees and any level of participation is valued.  Perhaps you want to volunteer your time and talent.  Or you simply want to receive legislative alerts.  A key to Decoding Dyslexia’s success across the country has been the willingness of individuals such as yourself to share their story and knowledge with other parents and educators in their day to day life.

Please fill out our contact form or sign up as a member and join our email list.  We would love to hear from you!

Unlocking Dyslexia: Nationwide Dyslexia Awareness Campaign
 IDA is holding a nationwide awareness campaign and fundraising event to provide one handbook to every family United States.  The kit, Dyslexia in the Classroom:  What Every Teacher Needs to Know, will help raise awareness, share best practices, and be a resource to the school’s administration and staff.

In order to get these kits to every public elementary school principal on November 1, IDA needs your help!  It is simple.  Every dollar raised will provide one resource kit to one public elementary school in the United States.

1 Dollar. 1 Handbook. 1 Family.

From October 1-31, you can donate online or by mail to make sure families have the vital handbook, IDA Dyslexia Handbook: What Every Family Should Know, in their hands.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit the International Dyslexia Association website or donate $1 for 1 dyslexia kit to be sent to a public school.

 Start A Conversation About Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities 

Ever find yourself at a loss for words when trying to explain to others what it really means when you say, “My child has a learning disability”? What do you say to your own parents for whom the concept of dyslexia or learning disabilities might not be familiar? How about coaches? If you have other children without LD or related issues, how do you talk to them?

The National Center For Learning Disabilities ( gathered experts in the field of learning disabilities, parent contributors, parent advocates and authors—and came up with 17 conversation starters to help you “Start A Conversation About Learning Disabilities”.

Click on the link below to view a slideshow

Start A Conversation About Learning Disabilities

 Share Your Story

Someone out there needs you.  Whether you’re “The One” with dyslexia or you’re “Helping The One” with dyslexia, your voice is powerful.  Learning Ally has created a website,, dedicated helping the estimated 60 million people dealing with dyslexia.

If you’re ‘the one’ in 1in5, tell your story at Being the One.

If you’re part of a dyslexic’s support system – Mom, Dad, family, and friends – tell your story at Helping the One.


DDMO Educational Events

We have events to help. Decoding Dyslexia-MO hosts events across the State. If you have questions about why your child struggles to read or if you need help understanding your child’s evaluation, check our list of upcoming events.

St. Louis, MO
March 24, 2019, from 2 pm – 3:30 pm
Dyslexia Resource Fair
Des Peres Lodge
1050 Des Peres Road, Des Peres, MO 63131
Free tickets available on our Decoding Dyslexia MO Facebook Page
Sponsored by Lindamood Bell Learning Processes®
Please join DDMO to learn more about resources for children with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities in the St. Louis Area. Vendors at this event may include schools, tutoring centers, reading specialists, speech and language pathologists, and assessment centers.

Cape Girardeau, MO
April 8, 2019, 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Understanding The IEP Process/IEPs and Students with Dyslexia
Location:  SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence (SADI)
755, Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63703
Please join us to learn more about the IEP process and how to ensure your child with dyslexia will receive the goals they need to succeed in a special education environment. We hope you can make it!

St Louis, MO
Friday, May 3, 2019, at 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Conference:  How to Improve Word-Level Reading in Students with Dyslexia
Featuring David Kilpatrick
Location:  Holiday Inn Conference Center Cadillac Ballroom 10709 Watson Road St. Louis, MO 63127
Hosted by:  DDMO and MPACT (Missouri Parents ACT)
Tickets available here 
The presentation will focus on how children learn to read words and why some children struggle. Understanding the nature of word-level reading development and word-level reading problems will guide both assessment and intervention. Studies consistently show that the most commonly used intervention approaches provide limited benefits for weak readers. However, other studies have shown that some approaches can yield very large reading gains for such students. Once we understand how reading works and why some students struggle, the reasons for this pattern of intervention findings become clear. The focus is on establishing the best instructional and intervention practices. We hope you can make it!


Teacher Training

What percentage of teachers has been trained on dyslexia, its warning signs, and accommodation strategies that can help students with dyslexia?

Through no fault of their own, teachers (including general education teachers, reading specialists and special education teachers) often receive no training on dyslexia. It can be frustrating to be teaching without the necessary tools. Let’s help get our teachers the education and tools they need to help all students learn to read.

One in Five

As many as 1 in 5 students may have some degree of dyslexia. Check out Learning Ally’s 1in5 initiative.

Dyslexia is characterized by an unexpected difficulty in reading in children and adults who otherwise possess the intelligence, motivation, and schooling considered necessary for accurate and fluent reading (Shaywitz 1998). It represents one of the most common problems affecting children and adults with prevalence rates ranging from 5 to 17.5% (Shaywitz 1998). Such data have led “the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) [to] consider reading failure to reflect not only an educational problem, but a significant public health problem as well” (Lyon 1998).