State Education Agency (SEA) Dyslexia Legislation

Has Legislation?Yes

Parent Opt-Out/Consent Procedures by Law?
SEA Recognizes IDA Definition?
SEA Recognizes State Definition?
SEA Has Dyslexia Specialist?

General Laws Chapters 71, 287

The possibility of opt-outing is implied by language in Section 57 (e.g., opting out for religious reasons or records of previous recent assessment).



Parents Must Be Notified of Results?
SEA Publishes List of Screeners?
Annual Reporting to the SEA?
Response to Intervention for Student Learning Disability Eligibility in 2010?
Permitted by guidelines
Severe Discrepancy for Student Learning Disability Eligibility in 2010?
Permitted by guidelines
Student Learning Disability Eligibility (Zirkel & Thomas 2010 Classification)?
RTI and SD permitted only by guidelines, and are permitted in combination

Massachusetts Department of Education’s website recognizes IDA’s definition of dyslexia.

MA Section 57 states, “The committee, or the board of health in those municipalities where school health services are the responsibility of the board of health, shall cause every child in the public schools […] to ascertain defects in sight or hearing, postural and other physical defects tending to prevent his receiving the full benefit of his school work, or requiring a modification of the same in order to prevent injury to the child or to secure the best education results, […] shall require a physical record of each child to be kept in such forms […]"

Section 57A. “The department of elementary and secondary education, in consultation with the department of early education and care, shall, subject to appropriation, issue guidelines to assist districts in developing screening procedures or protocols for students that demonstrate 1 or more potential indicators of a neurological learning disability including, but not limited to, dyslexia.”

According to Section 287. “Section 1(a)SECTION 1. (a) There shall be an early literacy expert panel to develop recommendations to have all students in the commonwealth reading proficiently by the end of third grade....The panel shall make recommendations to the secretary and the commissioners of early education and care, elementary and secondary education and higher education on the alignment, coordination and implementation of, including, but not limited to… (4) developmentally appropriate screening and assessment to monitor and report on children’s progress toward achieving benchmarks in language and literacy development across educational levels prior to third grade and measuring school readiness and children’s reading proficiency from pre-kindergarten to third grade;”

According to 71B Section 3. “In accordance with the regulations, guidelines and directives of the department issued jointly with the departments of mental health, developmental services, public health, youth services, and the commission for the blind and the commission for the deaf and hard of hearing and with assistance of the department, the school committee of every city, town or school district shall identify the school age children residing therein who have a disability, as defined in section 2, diagnose and evaluate the needs of such children, propose a special education program to meet those needs, provide or arrange for the provision of such special education program, maintain a record of such identification, diagnosis, proposal and program actually provided and make such reports as the department may require. Until proven otherwise, every child shall be presumed to be appropriately assigned to a regular education program and presumed not to be a school age child with a disability or a school age child requiring special education.

The department shall take all steps necessary to monitor and enforce compliance with this section no less than every three years, including but not limited to investigations, on-site visits and public hearings, and shall provide assistance in planning and implementing any necessary corrective actions to ensure that no school committee provides special education services to a child pursuant to this chapter unless an evaluation conducted pursuant to this section determines that the child has a disability, as defined in section 1…”



Massachusetts does not explicitly require dyslexia pre-service training. However, according to Section 287: “The literacy panel shall recommend “action steps to implement research-based recommendations contained in reports written by experts in early language and literacy development on student screening and teacher preparation methods with respect to reading disabilities including, but not limited to, dyslexia.”



Massachusetts does not explicitly require dyslexia in-service training. However, according to Section 287: “The literacy panel shall make recommendations concerning “(3) pre-service and in-service professional development and training for educators on language and literacy development, the administration of screenings and assessments, and the analysis of data gained through screenings and assessments to make instructional decisions to improve language and literacy acquisition in young children;”




Massachusetts does not explicitly require dyslexia in-service training. However, according to Section 287, the literacy panel shall issue recommendations related to “1) strategies for evaluating the effectiveness of curricula on language and literacy development for children in early education and care programs and grades pre-kindergarten to third grade, inclusive, that (i) is anchored in rich content; (ii) uses a wide variety of types of text to support content under study; (iii) emphasizes the role of oral language and discussion in promoting early reading skills; and (iv) contains a balanced instructional design focused on developing both meaning-based skills, such as comprehension, conceptual knowledge, vocabulary and code-based skills, such as letter knowledge, letter sounds and word reading; (2) effective instructional practices to promote children’s language and literacy development in early education and care programs and grades pre-kindergarten to third grade, inclusive, including tiered instructional strategies and materials;”

Literacy State-identified Measurable Result (SIMR) - Part B

Has Literacy SIMR?No


Decoding Dyslexia Massachusetts

International Dyslexia Association Massachusetts


Zirkel, P. A., & Thomas, L. B. (2010). State laws for RTI: An updated snapshot. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(3), 56-63.

Gearin, B., Turtura, J., Kame’enui, E. J., Nelson, N. J., & Fien, H. (2018). A Multiple Streams Analysis of Recent Changes to State-Level Dyslexia Education Law. Educational Policy, 0895904818807328.

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Last modified: 
10/04/2022 - 1:45pm