According to the federal regulations at
34 CFR 300.8(c)(10), a specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language -- spoken or written -- that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. These include conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. For more information regarding specific learning disability, visit the
Specific Learning Disabilities page.
Dyslexia is a reading or language-based learning disability that makes it difficult to read, write, and/or spell. Young children may have trouble recognizing letters, matching letters to sounds, blending sounds into speech, pronouncing words (for example, saying “mawn lower” instead of “lawn mower”); learning and correctly using new vocabulary words; learning the alphabet, numbers, and days of the week or similar common work sequences; and rhyming. The diagram above provides a visual of some of the difficulties that students with dyslexia face in the classroom.
Characteristics of Dyslexia
Many children have problems with learning and behavior from time to time, and variations in development are normal. Below are brochures that provide information regarding characteristics of dyslexia.
- ISBE Targeted Learning Disability Brochures
The federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released
guidance to state and local educational agencies. This guidance clarifies that students with specific learning disabilities—such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia—have unique educational needs. It further clarifies that there is nothing in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in a student’s evaluation, determination of eligibility for special education and related services, or in developing the student’s individualized education program (IEP).
OSERS acknowledged that there could be situations in which the child’s parents and the team of qualified professionals responsible for determining whether the child has a specific learning disability would find it helpful to include information about the specific condition (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia) in documenting how that condition relates to the child’s eligibility determination. Additionally, 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 dyslexia).
Specifically, this guidance:
- Clarifies that the list of conditions in the definition of “specific learning disability,” which includes dyslexia, is not an exhaustive list of conditions that may qualify a child as a student with a learning disability;
- Reminds states of the importance of addressing the unique educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities resulting from dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia during IEP meetings and other meetings with parents under IDEA;
- Encourages states to review their policies, procedures, and practices to ensure that they do not prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in evaluations, eligibility, and IEP documents.
On July 14, 2014, Illinois
Public Act 98-0705 was signed into law. The law requires two activities of the Illinois State Board of Education:
- Adopt rules that incorporate an international definition of dyslexia into Part 226 of Title 23 of the Illinois Administrative Code.
The definition of dyslexia from the International Dyslexia Association is currently incorporated into the 23 Illinois Administrative Code and is as follows:
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition 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.
- Subject to appropriation or the availability of private donations, to establish an advisory group to develop a training module or training modules to provide education and professional development to teachers, school administrators, and other educational professional regarding multi-sensory, systematic, and sequential instruction in reading.
No funding was appropriated to establish an advisory group to develop training modules. However, a Reading Instruction Advisory Group (RIAG) was established to discuss this important topic and review various assessment/diagnostic materials, program and method materials, professional development materials, and other various resources specific to dyslexia. The results of the materials reviewed by the advisory group are below offered as a Tool Kit.
On January 13, 2016, changes were made to the Special Education Regulations, found in
23 Illinois Administrative Code, Part 226 as follows (always refer to the posted rules to verify that information is current):
Section 226.125 Specific Learning Disability: Dyslexia
- For the purposes of this Section, dyslexia means a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition 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 growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. (Definition is from the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association.)
- In accordance with 34 CFR 300.8(b)(10), dyslexia is one of a number of disorders included as a specific learning disability that may adversely affect the student's educational performance and result in the child's eligibility for special education and related services.
- Each child suspected of having dyslexia or identified as dyslexic shall be referred for an evaluation in accordance with the requirements of 34 CFR 300.304 through 300.311 and Subpart B of this Part.
Reading Instruction Advisory Group
Public Act 98-0705 required the State Board of Education, subject to appropriation or the availability of private donations, to establish an advisory group to develop a training module or training modules to provide education and professional development to teachers, school administrators, and other educational professional regarding multi-sensory, systematic, and sequential instruction in reading.
Although no funding was appropriated for this advisory group, the Board decided to convene a group of stakeholders to discuss this important topic and review existing programs. The stakeholder group created a “Reading Intervention Toolkit” based on their reviews. The group encourages schools and districts to utilize the Program and Methods section of the toolkit as a rubric to assess their own interventions and needs in order to provide appropriate targeted reading intervention as determined by screenings/diagnostic assessments and progress monitoring. For more information regarding the advisory group, visit
the RIAG page.
Reading Intervention Toolkit
The materials provided in this document are a collection of resources prepared by the Reading Instruction Advisory Group to be used for informational purposes only. These resources are not endorsed by the Illinois State Board of Education. All Illinois districts are responsible for developing school policies in compliance with applicable state and federal laws, rules, and regulations.
This toolkit was developed as an informational resource for students, parents, educational professionals, etc. to increase the level of awareness regarding instruments that can facilitate the identification of potential learning barriers, as well as, how to respond to them.
The toolkit is divided into five components:
- screening, questionnaires, and assessments;
- professional development resources;
- information on legal resources, district resources, and one-on-one advocacy;
- identifies books and articles related to phonological awareness, phonics, effective instruction, fluency, multi-sensory instruction, and vocabulary and comprehension.
The materials selected by the advisory group are a sampling of such and not meant to be an exhausted list. The advisory group does not endorse any programs, but encourages schools and districts to utilize the Program and Methods section of the toolkit as a rubric to assess current interventions and needs in order to provide appropriate targeted reading intervention determined by screenings/diagnostic assessments and progress monitoring.
Additionally, please note that the Illinois State Board of Education cannot espouse and/or recommend any specific products or curriculum, so please address specific questions regarding these tools to the developer of the product.
Reading Instruction Best Practices Related to Dyslexia
The Reading Instruction Advisory Group created a Reading Instruction Best Practices Related to Dyslexia document to provide information on literacy best practices that address some of the facts and recommendations from The International Dyslexia Association and researchers of dyslexia.
This page has been archived. The content on this page may no longer be in effect.