Federal & Minnesota State Law Related to Dyslexia

Advocacy Resources

academic standards and use of the term dyslexia by schools

national ORGANIZATION resources

NEW Screening Requirement

Minnesota State Statutes

+ 122A.06 DEFINITIONS. Subd. 4.Comprehensive, scientifically based reading instruction

(a) "Comprehensive, scientifically based reading instruction" includes a program or collection of instructional practices that is based on valid, replicable evidence showing that when these programs or practices are used, students can be expected to achieve, at a minimum, satisfactory reading progress. The program or collection of practices must include, at a minimum, effective, balanced instruction in all five areas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension.

Comprehensive, scientifically based reading instruction also includes and integrates instructional strategies for continuously assessing, evaluating, and communicating the student's reading progress and needs in order to design and implement ongoing interventions so that students of all ages and proficiency levels can read and comprehend text, write, and apply higher level thinking skills. For English learners developing literacy skills, districts are encouraged to use strategies that teach reading and writing in the students' native language and English at the same time.

(b) "Fluency" is the ability of students to read text with speed, accuracy, and proper expression.

(c) "Phonemic awareness" is the ability of students to notice, think about, and manipulate individual sounds in spoken syllables and words.

(d) "Phonics" is the understanding that there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken words. Phonics instruction is a way of teaching reading that stresses learning how letters correspond to sounds and how to apply this knowledge in reading and spelling.

(e) "Reading comprehension" is an active process that requires intentional thinking during which meaning is constructed through interactions between text and reader. Comprehension skills are taught explicitly by demonstrating, explaining, modeling, and implementing specific cognitive strategies to help beginning readers derive meaning through intentional, problem-solving thinking processes.

(f) "Vocabulary development" is the process of teaching vocabulary both directly and indirectly, with repetition and multiple exposures to vocabulary items. Learning in rich contexts, incidental learning, and use of computer technology enhance the acquiring of vocabulary.

(g) Nothing in this subdivision limits the authority of a school district to select a school's reading program or curriculum.

+ 125A.01 DEFINITIONS. Subd. 2.Dyslexia

"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.


Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 120B.12, subdivision 2, is amended to read:

Subd. 2. Identification; report. (a) Each school district shall must identify before the end of kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 all students who are not reading at grade level before the end of the current school year and shall. Students identified as not reading at grade level by the end of kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 must be screened, in a locally determined manner, for characteristics of dyslexia. (b) identify Students in grade 3 or higher who demonstrate a reading difficulty to a classroom teacher must be screened, in a locally determined manner, for characteristics of dyslexia, unless a different reason for the reading difficulty has been identified.

(c) Reading assessments in English, and in the predominant languages of district students where practicable, must identify and evaluate students' areas of academic need related to literacy. The district also must monitor the progress and provide reading instruction appropriate to the specific needs of English learners. The district must use a locally adopted, developmentally appropriate, and culturally responsive assessment and annually report summary assessment results to the commissioner by July 1.

(d) The district also must annually report to the commissioner by July 1 a summary of the district's efforts to screen and identify students with:

(1) dyslexia, using screening tools such as those recommended by the department's dyslexia specialist; or

(2) convergence insufficiency disorder.

(b) (e) A student identified under this subdivision must be provided with alternate instruction under section 125A.56, subdivision 1.

EFFECTIVE DATE. This section is effective July 1, 2020.


Subdivision 1.Purpose. The department must employ a dyslexia specialist to provide technical assistance for dyslexia and related disorders and to serve as the primary source of information and support for schools in addressing the needs of students with dyslexia and related disorders. The dyslexia specialist shall also act to increase professional awareness and instructional competencies to meet the educational needs of students with dyslexia or identified with risk characteristics associated with dyslexia and shall develop implementation guidance and make recommendations to the commissioner consistent with section 122A.06, subdivision 4, to be used to assist general education teachers and special education teachers to recognize educational needs and to improve literacy outcomes for students with dyslexia or identified with risk characteristics associated with dyslexia, including recommendations related to increasing the availability of online and asynchronous professional development programs and materials.

Subd. 2.Definition. For purposes of this section, a "dyslexia specialist" means a dyslexia therapist, licensed psychologist, licensed speech-language pathologist, or certified dyslexia training specialist who has a minimum of three years of field experience in screening, identifying, and treating dyslexia and related disorders.

Subd. 3.Requirements. A dyslexia specialist shall be highly trained in dyslexia and related disorders and in using interventions and treatments that are evidence-based, multisensory, direct, explicit, structured, and sequential in the areas of phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

+ Minnesota Rules, part 3525.1341: Identification of Specific Learning Disability.

Subpart 1. Definition. " 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, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The disorder is:

A. manifested by interference with the acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval, manipulation, or expression of information so that the child does not learn at an adequate rate for the child's age or to meet state-approved grade-level standards when provided with the usual developmental opportunities and instruction from a regular school environment; and

B. demonstrated primarily in academic functioning, but may also affect other developmental, functional, and life adjustment skill areas; and may occur with, but cannot be primarily the result of: visual, hearing, or motor impairment; cognitive impairment; emotional disorders; or environmental, cultural, economic influences, limited English proficiency or a lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math.

Subp. 2. Criteria. A child is eligible and in need of special education and related services for a Specific learning disability when the child meets the criteria in items A, B, and C or in items A, B, and D. Information about each item must be sought from the parent and must be included as part of the evaluation data. The evaluation data must confirm that the effects of the child's disability occur in a variety of settings. The child must receive two interventions, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.56, prior to evaluation, unless the parent requests an evaluation or the IEP team waives this requirement because it determines the child's need for an evaluation is urgent.

A. The child does not achieve adequately in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, reading fluency, mathematics calculation, or mathematical problem solving, in response to appropriate classroom instruction, and either:

(1) the child does not make adequate progress to meet age or state-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas listed above when using a process based on the child's response to scientific, research-based intervention (SRBI); or

(2) the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, state-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a Specific learning disability.

The performance measures used to verify this finding must be representative of the child's curriculum or useful for developing instructional goals and objectives. Documentation is required to verify this finding. Such documentation includes evidence of low achievement from the following sources, when available: cumulative record reviews; classwork samples; anecdotal teacher records; statewide and districtwide assessments; formal, diagnostic, and informal tests; curriculum-based evaluation results; and results from targeted support programs in general education.

B. The child has a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes which includes an information processing condition that is manifested in a variety of settings by behaviors such as inadequate: acquisition of information; organization; planning and sequencing; working memory, including verbal, visual, or spatial; visual and auditory processing; speed of processing; verbal and nonverbal expression; transfer of information; and motor control for written tasks.

C. The child demonstrates a severe discrepancy between general intellectual ability and achievement in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, reading fluency, mathematics calculation, or mathematical problem solving. The demonstration of a severe discrepancy shall not be based solely on the use of standardized tests. The group shall consider these standardized test results as only one component of the eligibility criteria. The instruments used to assess the child's general intellectual ability and achievement must be individually administered and interpreted by an appropriately licensed person using standardized procedures. For initial placement, the severe discrepancy must be equal to or greater than 1.75 standard deviations below the mean of the distribution of difference scores for the general population of individuals at the child's chronological age level.

D. The child demonstrates an inadequate rate of progress. Rate of progress is measured over time through progress monitoring while using intensive SRBI, which may be used prior to a referral, or as part of an evaluation for special education. A minimum of 12 data points are required from a consistent intervention implemented over at least seven school weeks in order to establish the rate of progress. Rate of progress is inadequate when the child's:

(1) rate of improvement is minimal and continued intervention will not likely result in reaching age or state-approved grade-level standards;

(2) progress will likely not be maintained when instructional supports are removed;

(3) level of performance in repeated assessments of achievement falls below the child's age or state-approved grade-level standards; and

(4) level of achievement is at or below the fifth percentile on one or more valid and reliable achievement tests using either state or national comparisons. Local comparison data that is valid and reliable may be used in addition to either state or national data. If local comparison data is used and differs from either state or national data, the group must provide a rationale to explain the difference.

Subp. 3. Determination of Specific learning disability. In order to determine that the criteria for eligibility in subpart 2 are met, documentation must include:

A. an observation of the child in the child's Previous learning Next environment, including the regular classroom setting, that documents the child's academic performance and behavior in the areas of difficulty. For a child of less than school age or out of school, a group member must observe the child in an environment appropriate to the child's age. In determining whether a child has a Specific learning disability, the parents and the group of qualified professionals, as provided by Code of Federal Regulations, title 34, section 300.308, must:

(1) use information from an observation in routine classroom instruction and monitoring of the child's performance that was done before the child was referred for a special education evaluation; or

(2) conduct an observation of academic performance in the regular classroom after the child has been referred for a special education evaluation and appropriate parental consent has been obtained; and

(3) document the relevant behavior, if any, noted during the observation and the relationship of that behavior to the child's academic functioning;

B. a statement of whether the child has a Specific learning disability;

C. the group's basis for making the determination, including that:

(1) the child has a disorder, across multiple settings, that impacts one or more of the basic psychological processes described in subpart 1 documented by information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input, and teacher recommendations, as well as information about the child's physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior; and

(2) the child's underachievement is not primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor impairment; developmental cognitive disabilities; emotional or behavioral disorders; environmental, cultural, or economic influences; limited English proficiency; or a lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, verified by: (a) data that demonstrate that prior to, or as part of, the referral process, the child was provided appropriate instruction in regular education settings delivered by qualified personnel; and (b) data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting formal assessment of the child's progress during instruction, which was provided to the child's parents;

D. educationally relevant medical findings, if any;

E. whether the child meets the criteria in subpart 2, either items A, B, and C or items A, B, and D; and

F. if the child has participated in a process that assesses the child's response to SRBI, the instructional strategies used and the child-centered data collected, the documentation that the parents were notified about the state's policies regarding the amount and nature of child performance data that would be collected and the general education services that would be provided, strategies for increasing the child's rate of Previous learning Next , and the parent's right to request a special education evaluation.

Subp. 4. Verification. Each group member must certify in writing whether the report reflects the member's conclusion. If it does not reflect the member's conclusion, the member must submit a separate statement presenting the member's conclusions.

The district's plan for identifying a child with a Specific learning disabilityconsistent with this part must be included with its total special education system (TSES) plan. The district must implement its interventions consistent with that plan. The plan should detail the Previous specific SRBI approach, including timelines for progression through the model; any SRBI that is used, by content area; the parent notification and consent policies for participation in SRBI; procedures for ensuring fidelity of implementation; and a district staff training plan.


Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 122A.092, subdivision 5, is amended to read:

Subd. 5. Reading strategies.

(a) All colleges and universities A teacher preparation provider approved by the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board to prepare persons for classroom teacher licensure must include in their its teacher preparation programs research-based best practices in reading, consistent with section 122A.06, subdivision 4, that enables enable the licensure candidate to teach reading in the candidate's content areas. Teacher candidates must be instructed in using students' native languages as a resource in creating effective differentiated instructional strategies for English learners developing literacy skills. These colleges and universities A teacher preparation provider also must prepare early childhood and elementary teacher candidates for Tier 3 and Tier 4 teaching licenses under sections 122A.183 and 122A.184, respectively, for the portion of the examination under section 122A.185, subdivision 1, paragraph (c), covering assessment of reading instruction.

(b) Board-approved teacher preparation programs for teachers of elementary education must require instruction in applying comprehensive, scientifically based or evidence-based, and balanced structured reading instruction programs that:

(1) teach students to read using foundational knowledge, practices, and strategies consistent with section 122A.06, subdivision 4, so that all students achieve continuous progress in reading; and

(2) teach specialized instruction in reading strategies, interventions, and remediations that enable students of all ages and proficiency levels to become proficient readers.

(c) Board-approved teacher preparation programs for teachers of elementary education, early childhood education, special education, and reading intervention must include instruction on dyslexia, as defined in section 125A.01, subdivision 2. Teacher preparation programs may consult with the Department of Education, including the dyslexia specialist under section 120B.122, to develop instruction under this paragraph. Instruction on dyslexia must be modeled on practice standards of the International Dyslexia Association, and must address:

(1) the nature and symptoms of dyslexia;

(2) resources available for students who show characteristics of dyslexia;

(3) evidence-based instructional strategies for students who show characteristics of dyslexia, including the structured literacy approach; and

(4) outcomes of intervention and lack of intervention for students who show characteristics of dyslexia.

(c) (d) Nothing in this section limits the authority of a school district to select a school's reading program or curriculum.

EFFECTIVE DATE. Paragraph (c) is effective June 1, 2020.


Subdivision 1.Requirement. (a) Before a pupil is referred for a special education evaluation, the district must conduct and document at least two instructional strategies, alternatives, or interventions using a system of scientific, research-based instruction and intervention in academics or behavior, based on the pupil's needs, while the pupil is in the regular classroom. The pupil's teacher must document the results. A special education evaluation team may waive this requirement when it determines the pupil's need for the evaluation is urgent. This section may not be used to deny a pupil's right to a special education evaluation. (b) A school district shall use alternative intervention services, including the assurance of mastery program under section 124D.66, or an early intervening services program under subdivision 2 to serve at-risk pupils who demonstrate a need for alternative instructional strategies or interventions.

(c) A student identified as being unable to read at grade level under section 120B.12, subdivision 2, paragraph (a), must be provided with alternate instruction under this subdivision that is multisensory, systematic, sequential, cumulative, and explicit.