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
- Dyslexia and Specific Learning Disabilities – presentation by Amy Schulting and Vicki Weinberg at the March 8, 2019, Special Education Directors’ Forum
- Dyslexia Screening and Identification – presentation by Amy Schulting and Vicki Weinberg at the December 7, 2018, Special Education Directors’ Forum: view Part 1; view Part 2; view Part 3
- Teaching Exceptional Children Journal – Dyslexia Issue
- Dyslexia in the Classroom: What Every Teacher Needs to Know
- Dyslexia Toolkit: An Essential Resource provided by the National Center on Learning Disabilities
- U.S. Department of Education 2015 letter regarding use of the term dyslexia
- Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 (specific dyslexia examples included)
Current Statues Defining Dyslexia and Requirements
- Minnesota Statutes, section 122A.06: Defines comprehensive, scientifically based reading instruction.
- Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.01: Defines dyslexia.
- Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.12: Reading Proficiently No Later than the End of Grade 3.
- Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.122: Dyslexia Specialist.
- Minnesota Rules, part 3525.1341: Identification of Specific Learning Disability.
- Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.56: Alternate Instruction Required Before Assessment Referral.
- Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.50: Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instructional Supports.
MDE Informational Papers and Guidance
- Navigating the School System When a Child is Struggling with Reading or Dyslexia: Answers to frequently asked questions about providing evidence-based supports for students with dyslexia and those who struggle with reading.
- Recommended Universal Screening Tool List Criteria and Selection Process (2018-2019)
- List of Universal Screening Tools for Identifying Characteristics of Dyslexia: With publisher contact and other information.
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
State Dyslexia Specialist
Specific Learning Disabilities Specialist