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Dyslexia Advisory Council

During the 2016 Legislation Session, the general assembly passed the Public Chapter 1058 of the Acts of 2016 which requires school districts to screen for characteristics of dyslexia through their existing Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI²) procedures and to provide “dyslexia-specific tiered interventions” for students that demonstrate a need.

In addition, the legislation requires the department to convene a dyslexia advisory council to provide input and feedback on matters related to dyslexia. The council will meet throughout each school year and will report on their work to increase dyslexia screening and identification. This report will be shared with districts, stakeholders and the general assembly.

Request to Speak

Anyone interested in speaking before the council may do so by emailing Theresa Nicholls at

Need Advice? Have a question? Looking for dyslexia resources in your area? Call our 24-hour hotline and leave us a message. The Tennessee Branch of The International Dyslexia Association. TN-IDA Dyslexia Hotline (901) 468-3611
photo of the Dyslexia Advisory Council

Dyslexia Resource Guide

Public Chapter 1058 of the Acts of 2016 requires the department to develop guidance for identifying characteristics of dyslexia and to provide appropriate professional development resources for educators. The department sought feedback from the Dyslexia Advisory Council and external stakeholders to develop this resource document. The Dyslexia Resource Guide assists districts in their implementation of the requirements established by Public Chapter 1058. In particular, this guide:

  • identifies and clarifies the bill requirements
  • defines characteristics of dyslexia
  • provides applicable resources

Universal Screener Criteria The Criteria for Selecting a Universal Screener in Reading, Mathematics and Writing is designed to help educators evaluate screening tools for RTI².

Peer Review Intervention Screening Instrument

Date: October 22, 2018
Time: 10-2 CT
Location: Tennessee School for the Blind 
115 Stewart’s Ferry Pike
Nashville, TN 37214

Date: Monday, June 4, 2018
Time: 10:00-2:00 CT (lunch provided)
Location: Tennessee School for the Blind Professional Development Atrium
115 Stewarts Ferry Pike
Nashville, TN 37214

Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Time: 10:00-2:00 CT (lunch provided)
Location: Tennessee School for the Blind Professional Development Atrium
115 Stewarts Ferry Pike
Nashville, TN 37214

Name Position
Theresa Nicholls Director of School Psychology, Services, Tennessee Department of Education
Eileen Miller Advocate, Decoding Dyslexia Tennessee
Allison McAvoy Special Education Teacher, Hamilton County Department of Education
Melissa Miller-Benson Elementary School Teacher, The Bodine School
Mercedes Chartrand Middle School Teacher, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
Briana Patrick High School Teacher, Lauderdale County Schools
Anna Thorsen Parent
Morgan Ashworth Speech Language Pathologist, Loudon County School District

The council also includes three ex-officio members with expertise in dyslexia: Emily Dempster with the International Dyslexia Association; Erin Alexander, a school psychologist and assistant director for clinical services at the Tennessee Center for Dyslexia; and Susan Porter, a district lead coach of instruction with Metro Nashville Public Schools.