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US Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Dyslexia Guidance

Highlights of the Dyslexia Guidance Letter:


The purpose of this letter is to clarify that there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluations, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents.  (paragraph 1)


OSERS reminds SEAs and LEAs about previous guidance regarding the use of MTSS, including RTI, and timely evaluations, specifically that a parent may request an initial evaluation at any time to determine if a child is a child with a disability under IDEA (34 CFR Sec. 300.301(b)), and the use of MTSS, such as RTI, may not be used to delay or deny a full and individual evaluation under 34 CFR Sec. 300.304-300.311 of a child suspected of having a disability.  (paragraph 4)


In 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 LEA 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.  (paragraph 5)


Stakeholders also requested that SEAs and LEAs have policies in place that allow for the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia on a child’s IEP, if a child’s comprehensive evaluation supports use of these terms…. Therefore, OSERS reiterates that there is nothing in the IDEA or our implementing regulations that would prohibit IEP Teams from referencing or using dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia in a child’s IEP.   (paragraph 6)


In implementing the IDEA requirements discussed above, OSERS encourages SEAs and LEAs to consider situations where it would be appropriate to use the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia to describe and address the child’s unique, identified needs through evaluation, eligibility, and IEP documents.  OSERS further 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.  Finally, in ensuring the provision of free appropriate public education, OSERS encourages SEAs to remind their LEAs 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.  (paragraph 7)


  • SEA = State Education Agency
  • LEA = Local Education Agency
  • MTSS = Multi-Tiered System of Supports
  • RTI = Response To Intervention

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