Texas has a new law that outlines who is required to be on the IEP Team — which is commonly referred to as the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Committee in Texas — for students evaluated for dyslexia. First, let’s review who is required to attend ARD meetings according to federal law.
Meetings to discuss the individual needs of students receiving special education services must occur at least once per year and specific members must attend. Federal law dictates the required members of the IEP Team. A core team of necessary members must attend each meeting to meet legal requirements and properly make decisions for the student as is outlined in 34 CFR § 300.321.
In Texas, an ARD Committee typically consists of the parents and/or adult student, a general education teacher, a special education teacher, a campus administrator, and a diagnostician or school psychologist. Districts vary regarding when and/or how the child participates in the meeting. Districts may begin student participation in meetings where postsecondary transition discussions occur. Other districts may include students beginning in elementary school. Each required member of the ARD Committee contributes valuable information from a varied perspective, which helps create a full picture of individual student strengths and needs.
In addition to the core members, and dependent on the specific needs of the student, regulations may require the attendance of other professionals. Additional members with relevant experience and information to assist with IEP development can include related services personnel who serve the child and/or conduct an evaluation in their area of expertise. With parent approval, a representative of an outside agency providing support to the student may participate in the meeting. For students suspected of or eligible with conditions of deaf-blindness, deaf or hard of hearing, or visual impairments, teachers certified in the area of concern should attend. A representative for career and technical education (CTE) should attend meetings for students whose schedule does or may include CTE courses. Meetings for students identified as Emergent Bilingual must include a member of the language proficiency assessment committee (LPAC). The ARD Committee may include other members with pertinent information about the child or services.
New Dyslexia Legislation
House Bill 3928 went into effect at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. One component of this bill adds required members to certain ARD Committee meetings for students evaluated for dyslexia. The new requirements necessitate an additional member of the district’s multidisciplinary team evaluating a student with suspected dyslexia, and this person must also serve on subsequent ARD Committees that address eligibility for special education. To meet the new requirement, the member must possess knowledge specific to the reading process which includes dyslexia and related disorders as well as dyslexia instruction. An individual can meet this requirement in one of three ways listed in the newly created TEC § 29.0031:
- Be a licensed dyslexia therapist (LDT);
- Hold the most advanced dyslexia-related certification issued by an association recognized by the State Board of Education (SBOE), and identified in, or substantially similar to an association identified in, either the rules or Dyslexia Handbook adopted by the SBOE; or
- If neither of the first two is available, an individual who meets applicable training requirements adopted by the SBOE.
When participating in the ARD Committee meeting, the individual should sign the IEP signature page and clearly indicate their role as the member required under TEC § 29.0031(b). This section of the Texas Education Code only applies to ARD Committee meetings that determine initial eligibility and any subsequent meetings in which dyslexia eligibility discussions occur, which includes re-evaluation but may involve other meetings as well. If the person serving in this role differs from the Provider of Dyslexia Instruction (PDI) for the student, then both must participate in the ARD Committee meeting. If these participants do not hold valid special education certification, then a separate certified special education teacher must attend the ARD Committee meeting as well.
Denise Carter serves as manager of TASB Student Solutions, where she leads an energetic and innovative team dedicated to supporting districts in special populations areas.
Carter’s 28 years of education experience in special education, general education, and administrative roles help her to meet the varied needs of all Texas school districts such as operating procedures, full program and folder reviews, professional development, executive coaching, and special education workload staffing analysis.
Carter joined TASB in 2019. She holds a bachelor’s in education from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos and a master’s in education from The University of Texas at Austin. She is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene.