In January of 2021, House Bill 436 of the 133rd General Assembly was signed into law by Ohio Governor DeWine. The law creates requirements for all Ohio Schools to universally screen for dyslexia and/or dyslexic tendencies and subsequently provide identified students with Multi-Sensory Structured Literacy intervention and remediation services. The law also created, and determined composition of the Ohio Dyslexia Committee tasked with developing the Guidebook. The committee shall:
- Prescribe between 6 and a maximum of 18 clock hours of required dyslexia-related teacher professional development.
- Determine whether a practicum is required as part of professional development for teachers.
- Require all districts to develop a pathway for multi-sensory structured literacy certification for teachers.
- Recommend student to teacher ratios for those who have received certification in identifying and addressing dyslexia.
- Make recommendations regarding which school personnel shall receive certification which may include education support personnel.
- Require all districts to administer annual dyslexia screenings.
- Require Multi-Sensory Structured Literacy intervention for those identified as ‘at-risk’ or having Dyslexia.
The law also requires the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), in collaboration with ODC, to identify screening and intervention measures that evaluate the literacy skills of students using a multi-sensory structured literacy program. Details of the law can be found at https://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Literacy/Dyslexia/Professional-Development.
The department has posted the Ohio Dyslexia Committee’s decision to require the maximum number of professional development clock hours allowable by law (18 hours) for all teachers assigned to kindergarten through grade 3, and special education teachers assigned to K -12. A list of the approved trainings and providers can be found at https://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Literacy/Dyslexia/Professional-Development. There is currently no information regarding universal screener (Tier 1) tool selection nor assessments and programs for the required Multi-Sensory Structured Literacy (Tier 2) intervention and monitoring.
Based upon a formal public comment window in January, ODE staff provided data from public feedback to the Ohio Dyslexia Committee. On February 14th, the State Board of Education (SBOE) Teaching Leading and Learning Committee (TLL) was presented the most recent version of the proposed guidebook: OH Dyslexia Guidebook DRAFT (Feb 2022) The TLL committee had a robust conversation regarding both public and board member received feedback. The committee chose not to approve and forward the guidebook to the full board as presented. Instead, TLL and other participating board members worked through the sections of the document to provide specific recommended changes.
The TLL’s commitment of time and discussion to provide solid recommendation to the ODC is applauded. It is critical the Ohio Dyslexia Committee respond appropriately to these recommendations and ongoing feedback from teachers to ensure the guidebook meets the law and the needs of students identified as ‘at-risk’ and/or having Dyslexia.
Comments can be provided to the Ohio Dyslexia Committee at https://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Literacy/Dyslexia/Dyslexia-Commitee.
Please consider also sharing comments with your State Board of Education (SBOE) representative. Contact information is found at https://education.ohio.gov/State-Board/State-Board-Members.
OEA supports the appropriate identification and use of quality research intervention methods specific to students who are identified as ‘at-risk’ for and/or have Dyslexia.
OEA calls upon Ohio legislators to equitably fund the law they passed and which was signed by Governor DeWine. Without permanent funding, few districts will be able to train and hire appropriate staff.
OEA appreciates the State Board of Education members’ action to ensure all public comments regarding the guidebook continue to be heard and addressed.
OEA strongly encourages the Ohio Dyslexia Committee to limit the frequency, duration and over-all use of testing to minimum amounts. Simply, more testing means less teaching.
OEA reiterates the ongoing concern the guidebook, as currently proposed, needs to do more to clearly differentiate best practices as optional as opposed to required by law.
OEA, in support and recognition of the professional expertise of their members, reminds the Ohio Dyslexia Committee, the guidebook, including suggested best practices, should clearly avoid any appearance or effort to mandate one methodology and/or provider for all student instruction. Local school districts should have the ability to create programs that are best suited for their community’s needs.
OEA suggests an unbiased yearly data review be provided to SBOE on the number of students identified as at-risk and/or with Dyslexia. The data should be disaggregated and include poverty, English Learners, students of color, Special Education and access and participation in high quality early childhood experiences.
The level of required teacher professional development continues to exceed district time and funding resources. Credit towards professional development requirements should include already completed graduate level or additional licensure work in the areas of Reading/Literacy pedagogy.