Teacher Knowledge of Dyslexia

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2016


The past year has been important for individuals with dyslexia and for those in positions of advocacy. On October 23, 2015, just five days before the International Dyslexia Association’s (IDA) annual conference meeting, the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released a policy guidance letter on dyslexia to state and local education agencies. In this letter, OSERS noted that “there is nothing in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or IEP (individualized education program) documents” (Yudin, 2015, p. 1). Three days after the release of the policy guidance letter, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act (READ Act, 2015). The READ Act was passed into law on February 18, 2016, and requires the National Science Foundation to allocate at least $5 million annually to dyslexia research. Furthermore, in a recent Perspectives article, Youman and Mather (2015) noted that more than half of the states in the U.S. have enacted dyslexia laws and a growing number of states have dyslexia initiatives and resolutions to promote dyslexia awareness in K–12 settings (see Youman & Mather, 2015 for a full list). Recent federal guidelines, research initiatives, and a push for state laws outlining expectations for dyslexia awareness are steps in the right direction to ensuring that all individuals, including those with dyslexia, are provided with access to research-based reading instruction. Given this impetus, we believe it is vital to understand the current knowledge base of teachers, teacher educators, and teacher candidates regarding research-based reading concepts and dyslexia. In this article, we aim to do two things: (a) present an overview of the existing research base on teacher knowledge of reading concepts and dyslexia, and (b) provide suggestions for ways the IDA community can help bridge the gap across dyslexia research, teacher preparation and professional development, and advocacy.