Reading Proficiency

What is Dyslexia?

The definition of dyslexia is included in Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.01. As stated in statute, "dyslexia" means a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent recognition of words and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. Students who have a dyslexia diagnosis must meet the state and federal eligibility criteria in order to qualify for special education services.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) dyslexia team is currently focusing on supporting school efforts to screen and identify students with characteristics of dyslexia and develop teacher capacity to provide evidence-based reading instruction.

Parent Support and Advocacy

The role of the dyslexia specialist is to provide technical assistance and serve as the primary source of information and support for Minnesota schools in addressing the needs of students with dyslexia. The following organizations provide supports to parents such as consultation, education, resources and advocacy: PACER, Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of Minnesota and Decoding Dyslexia of Minnesota (DDMN) (see Related Links). If there are concerns about compliance with service plans and rights and procedural safeguards contact MDE’s Compliance and Assistance Division.

Dyslexia Information for Parents and Educators

Current Statues Defining Dyslexia and Requirements

MDE Informational Papers and Guidance

Recommended Professional Development Opportunities

Teachers request information on where to learn more or get training. The following options are not exhaustive but come highly recommended by the International Dyslexia Association.

  • Reading Rockets (Reading 101 modules and other resources). Reading 101 was produced in collaboration with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and The International Dyslexia Association. These nine modules are provided online for free and prepare teachers to take the Certification Exam for Educators of Reading Instruction (CEERI).
  • Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). This professional development program can be used regardless of the literacy program used in a school. Modules are also available for early childhood educators, administrators and principals.
  • Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading, International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI). Information provided about structured literacy certification for educators and accredited university programs.

MDE Dyslexia Team

Amy Schulting
State Dyslexia Specialist

Vicki Weinberg
Specific Learning Disabilities Specialist

Jenny Wazlawik
Literacy Specialist