In 2018, the Washington state legislature created the Dyslexia Advisory Council to develop best practices and sample educational information for parents and educators. The Dyslexia Advisory Council was also tasked with developing dyslexia screening tools for Washington schools. In June 2021, the Office of Superintendent of Public instruction reviewed the Dyslexia Advisory Council’s recommendations and starting in the 2021 – 2022 school year, Washington students in grades K – 2 will be screened for indications or areas of weakness associated with dyslexia.
The definition of dyslexia adopted by the 65th Washington Legislature in 2018 is codified in RCW 28A.320.250:
“Dyslexia” means a specific learning disorder that is neurological in origin and that is characterized by unexpected difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities that are not consistent with the person’s intelligence, motivation, and sensory capabilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological components of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities. In addition, the difficulties are not typically a result of ineffective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.
Dyslexia Interventions and Screening Tools
Early intervention to address reading difficulties is the best way to prevent early literacy problems from becoming more severe over time. To that end, OSPI and the Dyslexia Advisory Council have recommended literacy screening tools to assess the following skills:
It is recommended that the classroom teacher administer the screening tool. It is thought that students will be more comfortable being administered the screener by someone they know, and the results of the screeners can help the teacher plan instruction and determine when additional help/aid is needed. In Kindergarten, the screener should be given in January. In first and second grade, the screener should be given in the fall semester. (Students who enroll mid-year will be screened at the next screening date with their peers.)
OSPI has provided the following as an example of a first grade screening timeline:
The literacy screener is a short, informal test that is given to all students to determine if additional testing is needed. It is not a formal evaluation for learning disabilities and is not a tool used to formally diagnose dyslexia. However, students who have a deficit in a given screening area will receive additional interventions and supports, and their progress will be monitored.
If a student shows indications of below grade level literacy development the school district must provide interventions using evidence-based multitiered systems of support. Further, the interventions must be provided by an educator trained in instructional methods specifically targeting students’ areas of weakness.
If a student needs additional support, “Whenever possible, a school district must begin by providing student supports in the general education classroom. If screening tools and resources indicate that, after receiving the initial tier of student support, a student requires interventions, the school district may provide the interventions in either the general education classroom or a learning assistance program setting.”
Further, the legislature requires districts to recommend students who continue to have areas of weakness associated with dyslexia for a formal evaluation: “If after receiving interventions, further screening tools and resources indicate that a student continues to have indications of, or areas of weakness associated with, dyslexia, the school district must recommend to the student’s parents and family that the student be evaluated for dyslexia or a specific learning disability.” (Emphasis added)
In addition to laying out the screening tools and resources for districts to use, RCW 28A.320.260 also sets out the notification requirements for districts to inform parents of their students’ screening results and progress when interventions are put in place. “Each school district must notify the student’s parents and family of the identified indicators and areas of weakness, as well as the plan for using multitiered systems of support to provide supports and interventions. The initial notice must also include information relating to dyslexia and resources for parental support developed by the superintendent of public instruction. The school district must regularly update the student’s parents and family of the student’s progress.”
Parents are encouraged to work with their District during the implementation of the dyslexia screeners and notification requirements. However, if you have questions or concerns regarding the screeners, supports, or how your student will be affected, Cedar Law PLLC is available to answer additional questions.
 RCW 28A.320.260 (2020)
 Dyslexia Advisory Council, Wash. Office of Superintendent of Pub. Instruction. Dyslexia Fact Sheet (2020).
 Dyslexia Advisory Council, Wash. Office of Superintendent of Pub. Instruction. Recommended Grade Band and Literacy Skills Screening Tools Timeline Matrix (2020).
 Dyslexia Advisory Council, Wash. Office of Superintendent of Pub. Instruction. FAQ for Early Adopters of Early Screening for Dyslexia in School Year 2020-21 (2020).
 Glenna Gallo, M.S., M.B.A & Kathe Taylor, PhD, Wash. Office of Superintendent of Pub. Instruction, Implementation Guide: Early Screening of Dyslexia (2020).
 Screening Tools and Best Practices, Wash. Office of Superintendent of Pub. Instruction, https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/workgroups-committees/currently-meeting-workgroups/washington-state-dyslexia-advisory-council/screening-tools-and-best-practices (last visited August 25, 2021).