At the end of June, the New Jersey legislature passed laws defining dyslexia and requiring that all teachers receive additional training in reading instruction.
A third law establishing a pilot program for dyslexia intervention is still pending.
A similar bill has recently been introduced in Pennsylvania. Also, a more comprehensive law was passed and signed into law in Arkansas in April 2013.
Federal law requires that all public school districts provide special education services to children who are experiencing difficulties and cannot keep up due to dyslexia or other learning differences.
Unfortunately, parents in many other states in the US often encounter barriers in school systems that do not provide screening or services specifically geared to dyslexia.
The New Jersey law adopts the following definition of dyslexia:
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition 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 growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
The definitions included in the new Arkansas law and the Pennsylvania bill are similar.
For information about all state laws concerning dyslexia, and regularly updated information about new legislation, visit the Dyslegia Legislative Tracking Site.