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Navigating Dyscalculia: A Close Look at State Laws and How They Impact Education

In educational policy, there is an emerging awareness and understanding of what dyscalculia is, how it can be identified, and how students with dyscalculia can be supported alongside their peers.


Dyscalculia, often described as a difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, performing mathematical calculations, and learning facts in mathematics, is a specific math learning disability that affects individuals across various stages of their cognitive development. It is generally estimated that 5-7% of the world’s population has Dyscalculia, and an additional 13-15% have some of the difficulties but not enough to require an IEP. Understanding changing federal and state regulations can help district educators, educational therapists, and caregivers proactively and effectively support these students. 


Federal Laws on Dyscalculia

In the United States, dyscalculia falls under the umbrella of learning disabilities covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA mandates that public schools must provide tailored education plans forDyscalculia Awareness students with disabilities, including those with dyscalculia. Such accommodations might encompass extra time on tests, the use of manipulatives, and specialized instruction methods, all designed to aid students with dyscalculia in achieving academic success. 


Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) plays a critical role by prohibiting discrimination based on disabilities, ensuring individuals with dyscalculia are entitled to reasonable accommodations across various settings beyond education, such as in employment and public accommodations.  


State-Specific Legislation on Dyscalculia

While federal laws provide a broad framework for the support of students with dyscalculia, it is at the state level where we often see more specific initiatives designed to address the unique needs of these students. Here’s a look at how some states are taking action: 


  • Alabama: Office of Mathematics Improvement (SB 171, 2022) Alabama has established the Office of Mathematics Improvement tasked with overseeing the implementation of early numeracy screeners for students in grades K-2, alongside assessments for older students. This initiative also provides for the allocation of mathematics coaches to public schools, enhancing support for students struggling with numeracy skills. 
  • Arkansas: Developing Math Intervention Plans (SB 294, 2023) Arkansas mandates that public school districts and charter schools develop math intervention plans for students in grades 3-8 who perform below grade level, ensuring targeted support and resources for those in need.
  • Colorado: Training in Evidence-Informed Practices (HB23-1231, 2023) In Colorado, there is a push for training educators in evidence-informed practices in mathematics, recognizing that teacher preparation is fundamental to supporting students with dyscalculia and other math-related challenges.  
  • Florida: Supports for Students with Dyscalculia (HB 7039, 2023) Florida’s legislation requires that students showing a substantial deficiency in mathematics or those diagnosed with dyscalculia receive targeted supports, emphasizing early intervention and ongoing monitoring. 
  • West Virginia: Multi-Tiered System of Support (HB 3035, 2023) West Virginia introduced a multi-tiered system of support for early literacy and numeracy, highlighting the importance of screening tools, professional development, and family engagement in promoting numeracy skills. 


Dyscalculia AwarenessThese state laws underscore a growing recognition of the importance of early diagnosis, intervention, and continued support for students with dyscalculia. By tailoring educational strategies to the unique needs of these learners, states can ensure that all students can reach their full potential. 


However, as noted, specifics regarding how dyscalculia is addressed can vary significantly from one state to another, often influenced by terminology, procedures for screening and identification, and the accommodations provided. Stakeholders looking to advocate for or support students with dyscalculia should familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations specific to their state, consulting relevant state education departments or legal resources for detailed information. 


The legislative landscape surrounding dyscalculia in the United States is both complex and evolving. Federal laws provide a foundation, but it’s at the state level where the nuances of supporting students with dyscalculia come to life through specific initiatives and regulations. For educators, administrators, and caregivers, staying informed about both federal and state laws is crucial in providing the best possible support for students with dyscalculia, ensuring they have the tools and resources needed to succeed in their educational journeys. 


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TouchMath is an evidence-based, multisensory approach to mathematics that can help students when other math learning solutions fail. If a student suffers from dyscalculia, they can still succeed in mathematics, and we have the resources to support you so you can better support them. 



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