This page reflects activities during the Spring of 2021. While statewide advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session did not result in law changes, those efforts directly led the Texas State Board of Eduction to update the Dyslexia Handbook. SBOE representatives worked with parents from HPISD and others across the state to ensure the guidelines for identifying and serving students with dyslexia were more aligned to federal IDEA law.
House Bill 3880 aligns Texas law with Federal Law to ensure that every student suspected of having dyslexia is given a Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) to determine all educational needs. Instead of the predetermined Section 504 method that is currently in place in most Texas schools, House Bill 3880 gives students access to more testing, services, support, and rights. House Bill 3880 also permits the most qualified staff members to work with dyslexic students, including Certified Academic Language Therapists (CALTs) and other dyslexia specialists regardless of their special education certification status.
Currently in Texas, students suspected of having dyslexia are not given a choice of how they are tested or served. In most schools, students are given a dyslexia-only evaluation under Section 504 and then put on a one-size-fits-all plan including only two years of intervention and minimal accommodations. Federal Law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states that dyslexia is a recognized disability and those suspected of having dyslexia should be given a Full Individual Evaluation (FIE). A student’s FIE results are then used by school officials and parents to create the best plan to meet all educational needs of a student.
Please note that students are not automatically admitted to Special Education when given a Full Individual Evaluation (FIE), but rather the results are used to determine the best way to meet the educational needs of each individual student.
Under IDEA, there are strict guidelines regarding evaluations and meeting timelines for schools to follow that are missing from Section 504. It’s also important to note that Section 504 Plans do not include goals, progress monitoring, services, or support that are all found in an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Furthermore, Section 504 does not guarantee parent involvement in the process, while parent involvement is mandated under IDEA, and IEPs are developed with their input. Click here for more information about the differences between Section 504 and Special Education under IDEA.
If passed, House Bill 3880 will align Texas with federal law while also providing more choices, services, and rights for families in Texas. Parents who have dyslexic students in Texas are encouraged to email legislators asking them to support the bill.
May 2, 2021
On May 2, 2021, the Houston Chronicle featured an in-depth article on the state of dyslexia education in Texas titled "Despite federal order, Texas parents struggle to win services for dyslexic students."
Three years ago, the U.S. Department of Education conducted an investigation into the Texas education system and found that students with disabilities were not receiving the education they needed. Recently, the federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services notified the Texas Education Agency (TEA) they were still not doing enough for students with disabilities, specifically those with dyslexia. However, it seems that after three years and several failed attempts to improve Texas education for dyslexic students, change might just be on the horizon.
While the newspaper's home is 250 miles south of Dallas, the front page article includes the story of a former Highland Park ISD family who moved out of the district in order to get the education that is guaranteed by federal law. The article also shares how leaders from Decoding Dyslexia Park Cities, known as the Kitchen Table Moms, have partnered with people across the state to work for change in Texas law and guidance through the passage of House Bill 3880 and by making changes to the Dyslexia Handbook. Families simply want Texas to align with federal law and stop forcing dyslexic students into the one-size-fits-all Section 504 program.
From the Houston Chronicle article:
"Students that have those so-called 504 plans typically receive lesser accommodations, such as the use of speech-to-text software or additional time on tests. They do not guarantee specialized instruction and goals to make sure dyslexic students are on track to learning how to read, unlike the guarantees afforded through IDEA.
Advocates say without those guarantees, schools are able to do little to help students with dyslexia and similar disabilities and can halt services whenever they choose."
Photos from Houston Chronicle:
William Luther, Staff photographer/San Antonio Express-News
April 29, 2021
DDPC Families Witness HB 3880 Pass-Through Committee to House Floor
Park Cities students and parents traveled to Austin this past week in support of House Bill 3880. The bill was supposed to be heard on Tuesday, April 27th, but due to a parliamentary error, the hearing was delayed until the next day. Families from across Texas stayed the course and spent the time between the two hearings meeting with every legislator they could find. The students went from office to office explaining why House Bill 3880 will help to align Texas law with federal law outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The students were proud to represent 220,000 dyslexic students in Texas and they did such a great job sharing their stories with anyone who would listen.
House Bill 3880 was finally brought before the House Public Education Committee on Wednesday afternoon, April 28th. The testimonies given at the hearing were unbelievably moving. Students and parents from HPISD spoke, as well as a school board trustee from Conroe ISD, a State Board of Education Representative, and numerous parents, students, and educational professionals from around Texas. Two people associated with The Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA) were the only ones to testify that were not in support of the bill. Thankfully, most of their testimony was proven inaccurate by the testimony of others who have far more knowledge about dyslexia in Texas, including the clarifications given by TEA’s state director for Special Education, Justin Porter.
Normally the committee takes a week to vote on a bill, but because of the overwhelming testimony and support, the bill was voted on immediately after testimonies ended. With a unanimous vote all in favor of the bill, House Bill 3880 now moves to the House floor! DDPC families are very excited, but cautious because there is only one month remaining to get the bill to the House floor. Updates will be provided regularly on this page, as well as on the DDPC Facebook page.
HPISD families with others at the State Capitol for the Public Education Committee Hearing.
HPISD families with Representative Morgan Meyer, House District 108.