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OSERS Guidance Letter regarding Identification of Students with Specific Learning Disabilities


Download the Dear Colleague: Dyslexia Guidance letter from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services

The U.S. Department of Education Guidance pertaining to the DOJ publication provides clarification regarding the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents. Information related to Response to Intervention (RTI), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is provided with guidance pertaining to the determination of a disability under IDEA.
Further, the letter indicates that the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) received communications from stakeholders, including parents, advocacy groups, and national disability organizations, who believe that State and local educational agencies (SEAs and LEAs) are reluctant to reference or use dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in evaluations, eligibility determinations, or in developing the individualized education program (IEP) under the IDEA. The purpose of the letter is to clarify that there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations , or IEP documents.
The letter also includes:

  • A reference to the definition of SLD
  • A reference to MTSS, RTI and PBIS options
  • Information regarding SLD evaluations

Department of Justice (DOJ)

Part of the federal government, to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States.

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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Federal law governing rights of children with disabilities to receive free and appropriate public education in least restrictive environment.

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Individual Education Program (IEP)

Written plan individually developed for students identified as having a disability under IDEA.

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Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)

Supports programs and research that help educate and improve lives of individuals with disabilities, and provides for rehabilitation.

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Local Education Agency (LEA)

Agency legally authorized to provide administrative control or direction of publically funded schools.

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