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Texas: House passes bill to expand dyslexia services in schools

May 6, 2023, Austin (TX) American-Statesman: Texas House OKs bill to improve dyslexia services for students. Here's what's proposed

The Texas House this week approved a bill to tighten reporting requirements and clarify needed services for students with dyslexia.

The bill is one of several this session that seek to improve evaluation requirements and services for special education students.

House Bill 3928, which passed through the House on Wednesday, is sponsored by Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands. The bill moved to the Senate for consideration but as of Friday hadn’t been referred to a committee for a hearing.

Texas has had issues providing services for students with dyslexia, said Toth, who has dyslexia….

The bill establishes a grievance procedure for parents to dispute their child’s evaluation or services for dyslexia, tightens requirements for evaluating a student suspected of having dyslexia and requires schools to employ dyslexia specialists.

The bill also requires schools to develop an individual education plan for a student with dyslexia that aligns with a state-created dyslexia handbook.

Though the handbook, which contains evaluation and instruction practices, is extensive, districts haven’t always followed it, Wilson said. …

Texas' fraught history with dyslexia services for children

On July 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education told the Texas Education Agency in a letter that the state needed to make corrections to its dyslexia program by June 30, including proving school districts are implementing its dyslexia handbook and dyslexia programs that comply with federal requirements.

Even if House Bill 2938 passes, the state will need to make sure it does the work of funding dyslexia services and training future teachers to educate special education students, Toth said.

"This was my issue growing up and even today," Toth said. "We didn't understand dyslexia in the '60s. We really had no clue what it was. We just though you're slow or you're lazy. Like many dyslexic kids I feel like I was robbed of something as a kid."

In 2021, the Legislature called for a Texas Commission on Special Education Funding to explore how to increase special education services. The committee met last year and issued a report, which recommended the state keep its current funding level for grant programs used to train school district staffers in dyslexia services.

That recommendation was one of 14, some of which were addressed in a separate legislative proposal.

Senate Bill 1474 seeks to implement some of the Special Education Funding Commission recommendations, such as creating grants to hire retired special education teachers and funding education savings accounts, which would give parents of special education students money to send their child to a private school or pay for other services.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, authored the bill, which has cleared the Senate.

“This is something that, after sitting in that committee, I am 100% convinced that this is the right solution for those families and the school districts and the child,” Bettencourt said.


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