HB 3928 and dyslexia….

It seems like every legislative session brings more tinkering with our laws pertaining to how we serve students with dyslexia. The changes enacted by HB 3928 are significant and will take a while to fully digest. Today and tomorrow I’m going to point out two of the more important passages.

The bill continues to require the State Board of Education to approve our program for serving students with dyslexia. The bill gets pretty specific about a few things that have to be included in the program. For example:

The program may not include a distinction between standard protocol dyslexia instruction, as defined by the Dyslexia Handbook….and other types of direct dyslexia instruction, including specially designed instruction.

You need a Magic Decoder Ring to make sense of that. You have to understand how the current Dyslexia Handbook defines “standard protocol dyslexia instruction” (SPDI) and then you have to know what “specially designed instruction” means. Once you understand that, you have to think about what it means to make no distinction between the two. Let’s dive in.

The term “specially designed instruction” comes from IDEA. It is the very definition of “special education.” IDEA regs tell us that special education is “specially designed instruction” that will meet the needs of a student with a disability. So when this new law says that we are to make no distinction between SPDI and “specially designed instruction” it sounds like it is telling us that SPDI is the same as “specially designed instruction.” In other words, when you provide SPDI to a student you are providing “special education.”

The current Handbook says two contradictory things about SPDI. If flat out says that SPDI is not “special education.” But then it says that SPDI is “wholly different from core classroom instruction” because of its “explicitness and intensity of instruction, fidelity to program descriptors, grouping formats, and training and skill of teachers.” Moreover, it “will often take place in a small group setting.”

You got that? It’s “wholly different” from what happens in the classroom and it is used to serve students with a condition that is listed as an example of a Specific Learning Disability, and it may be given in a small group setting….but it’s not special ed.


It will be interesting to see what the State Board does with this, but it looks to this non-educator lawyer that the legislature has seen enough of kids being given 504 plans and other non-special ed interventions when they have dyslexia and need a special form of instruction. They should have IEPs and all of the legal protections that come with that.

More tomorrow.


Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at jwalsh@wabsa.com.

Tomorrow: more on HB 3928