“Say Dyslexia” Law

Jul 8, 2021 | Blog, Dyslexia

In 2016, the Tennessee legislature passed a law that is also referred to as the “Say Dyslexia” law. The law requires schools to screen for characteristics of Dyslexia through Response to Intervention (RTI) and to provide “Dyslexia-specific intervention” for those students who show a need. This blog explains more about common Dyslexia terms and important information that you should know. It also provides steps on what to do if you suspect your child has Dyslexia.


Definition of Dyslexia and Common Terms

  • Dyslexiais a specific learning disability that a child may have if the student has difficulty with recognizing words, spelling, and applying knowledge to letters- sounds (Decoding).
  • Decodingis the ability to apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, or how to correctly pronounce written words
  • RTI²helps students with disabilities be identified earlier in school and it also gives students extra support if needed.  RTI² includes instruction and intervention. RTI² helps identify students with Dyslexia needs.
  • Universal Screeninghelps schools identify which students need extra help. Students who need extra help are progress monitored.
  • Progress monitoringis how your child’s school measures skills and keeps track of how a student is responding to a certain teaching method. Charting your child’s progress over time can help the school decide whether he needs to be taught in a different way.

Here are things to look for in your child if you suspect Dyslexia

  • Does your child read but not sound out letters on the page?
  • Does your child not sound out simple words like cat, nap, map?
  • Is there a history of reading needs?
  • Has your child needed additional help and not developed a strategy for unfamiliar words?
  • Does your child mix up similar words like tornado and volcano or lotion and ocean?

Important Information to know

  • If you suspect your child has Dyslexia, talk to your child’s teacher or IEP Team and have your child evaluated.
  • Districts are required to use a universal screener in RTI2 to identify strengths and areas of need. This information can be helpful in making decisions about skill-specific interventions. ALL students must participate in the universal screening to identify those students who may need additional supports.
  • 1 out of 5 students has Dyslexia. Most students are undiagnosed. However, whether it is diagnosed or not, the student should get the intervention and support they need.
  • It is not necessary for a student to be diagnosed with Dyslexia in order to receive appropriate intervention. Once a school identifies that a student shows characteristics of Dyslexia, it is important to provide the right interventions.

Levels of Support for Dyslexia:

 – given daily or very frequently for a sufficient amount of time
Explicit – skills are explained, directly taught, and modeled by the teacher
Systematic and cumulative – introduces concepts in a definite, logical sequence;
concepts are ordered from simple to more complex
Structured – has step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, and practicing
Multi-sensory – links listening, speaking, reading, and writing together; involves
movement and “hands-on” learning
Language-based – addresses all levels of language, including sounds (phonemes),
symbols (graphemes), meaningful word parts (morphemes), word and phrase meanings (semantics), sentences (syntax), longer passages (discourse), and the social uses of language (pragmatics)

These principles of instruction are often referred to by the following terms: Orton-Gillingham-based, a Multisensory Structured Language, or Structured Literacy. Interventions must be aligned to individual students’ needs. For students with Dyslexia or for students with the characteristics of Dyslexia, the intervention should address the specific phonological deficits identified through targeted assessments.

For more information, please visit https://decodingdyslexiatn.org/?fbclid=IwAR3Lw8DmVW1fPKJbl78P8WukkOhvTwg87Jtmu9L4B0WJ0b4ARJR0tg0J4ew