Annals of Dyslexia

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 356–368 | Cite as

Evaluating the impact of dyslexia laws on the identification of specific learning disability and dyslexia



Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that impacts word reading accuracy and/or reading fluency. Over half of the states in the USA have passed legislation intended to promote better identification of individuals with dyslexia. To date, no study has been conducted to investigate the potential impact of state laws on the identification of specific learning disability (SLD), and limited data has been presented on the rate at which students in public school settings are identified with dyslexia. The first aim of the current study was to determine if any detectable changes in the identification rates of SLD have occurred in states implementing dyslexia laws because most states do not report number of students identified as dyslexic but rather those students identified with an SLD. The second aim of the study was to characterize the rate of identifying dyslexia in the two states (Texas and Arkansas) that require public schools to report the number of students identified with dyslexia. The third aim was to characterize the identification rate across first to 12th grades. Current SLD rates range from 3.2 to 8.5% in all 50 states. Analysis of SLD prevalence rates did not vary between states with and without dyslexia laws in place. Moreover, there was no change in the identification of SLD once states had implemented these laws. Rates of dyslexia in Arkansas and Texas were less than 5%. Given the persistent levels indicating lack of reading proficiency, our review of data suggests that overall students with dyslexia are being underidentified.


Dyslexia Legislation Prevalence Specific learning disability 


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Copyright information

© The International Dyslexia Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Anne Barber Phillips
    • 1
  • Timothy N. Odegard
    • 1
  1. 1.Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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