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 www.interdys.org 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 (www.ncld.org) 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, www.explore1in5.org, 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.

Decoding Dyslexia-MO Roundtables
Do you know a bright child who struggles to read or write? Are you having trouble navigating the special education process, but don’t know where to turn?  Research shows that 1 out of 5 students struggle with reading and spelling.  You are not alone.  Come meet us for a casual morning or evening of support and discussion.  You will learn more about the Decoding Dyslexia movement and have a chance to meet with other parents of children with dyslexia.

St. Louis, MO
3rd Monday of November, February, May, August at 6:30 pm
Whole Foods Market Lifestyle Center (upstairs)
1160 Town and Country Crossing
Town and Country, MO  63017
Please RSVP kunnerstall@decodingdyslexia-mo.org
Topic: Quarterly Business Meeting and Legislative Update
Please join us to discuss St. Louis DD-MO business. There will be time to network with other families at the end of the meeting.  We hope you can make it!

St. Louis, MO
November 27, 2018, from 6:30-8:30
1021 Municipal Center Dr
St. Louis, MO 63131
Please RSVP  tmueller@decodingdyslexia-mo.org
Topic: Dyslexia Screening Next Steps presented by Kim Stuckey and Churchill Center & School
DD-MO and Churchill Center & School welcome Kim Stuckey, Missouri’s Dyslexia Specialist, to present on characteristics of dyslexia, identification, and diagnosis of dyslexia along with a discussion about appropriate accommodations and interventions. Churchill Center & School will give a brief overview of Wilson Reading System®, an intensive (Tier 3) intervention for students in grades 2-12 and adults who are not making sufficient progress in an intervention or who may require more intensive instruction due to a language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia.  

 Kansas City, MO
November 29, 2018, at 7:00 pm
Elk Lodge
515 E 99th St
Kansas City, MO  64131
Please RSVP mbratten@decodingdyslexia-mo.org
Topic: Parent Action Meeting
Please join us to discuss the importance of screening and notification. Dyslexia signs and symptoms. How undiagnosed Dyslexia effects our community. There will be time to network with other families at the end of the meeting.  We hope you can make it!

Kansas City, MO
December 12, 2018, at 6:00 pm
Copper Leaf
9011 N Glenwood
Kansas City, MO  64157
Please RSVP mbratten@decodingdyslexia-mo.org
Topic: Parent Action Meeting
Please join us to discuss Accommodations and IEP’s for children with Dyslexia. There will be time to network with other families at the end of the meeting.  We hope you can make it!  

St. Louis, MO
January 31, 2019, at 6:30
1021 Municipal Center Drive
St. Louis, MO 63131
Please RSVP
Topic: Experience Dyslexia ®: Dyslexia Simulation
Join DD-MO, Churchill Center & School, and UMSL Center for Behavioral Health for a dyslexia simulation. Designed to increase awareness of the difficulties and frustrations that people with dyslexia (a specific learning disability) encounter daily. We hope this experience will provide insight into working more effectively with children with dyslexia and lead to greater empathy and understanding. A short discussion will follow. Seating is limited to 60 people.



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).