In January of 2021, House Bill 436 of the 133rd General Assembly was signed into law by Ohio Governor DeWine. The law created requirements for all Ohio schools to universally screen for dyslexia and/or dyslexic tendencies and to subsequently provide identified students with Structured Literacy intervention and remediation services. The law also created and determined the composition of the Ohio Dyslexia Committee (ODC) who were tasked with developing the Guidebook.
Multiple public feedback windows provided robust feedback of the guidebook draft versions. This information was shared with the Ohio Dyslexia Committee and the State Board of Education Teaching, Leading and Learning Committee. The Ohio Dyslexia Guidebook was eventually approved by the Ohio State Board of Education (OSBOE) and can be accessed at the Ohio Department of Education website here. The ODC can update the guidebook when deemed necessary. The Executive Summary on page two makes clear not everything in the guidebook is mandatory per law.
The committee shall also:
- Prescribe between six and a maximum of eighteen 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 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 Structured Literacy intervention for those identified as being ‘at-risk,’ or having dyslexic tendencies and/or dyslexia.
- The committee can also determine what and how districts report data to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
The law also requires the ODE, in collaboration with the ODC, to identify screening and intervention measures that evaluate the literacy skills of students using a Structured Literacy program.
The department has posted the ODC’s current decision to require the maximum number of professional development clock hours allowable by law (18 hours) for kindergarten through grade 3, and k-12 special education teachers. Details can be found at the Ohio Department of Education website here.
As of December 2022, the existing professional development training modules are considered the K-3 introduction level. The professional development modules for 4-12 are forthcoming. However, if 4-12 Interventionists have already completed the introductory level, the department will consider these individuals as having met the law’s training requirement. This is also true for others who may have opted to complete the introductory level and later move into a k-3, or 4-12 Intervention Specialist position. While teachers of Music, Art and Physical Education are not required to complete the professional development, separate modules will be forthcoming for those teachers.
The law specifies which grade level teachers must complete the required professional development but does not prohibit a district from including other staff. In any scenario, any expectation the training occurs beyond the contractually defined workday, would be subject to bargaining and potential compensation. A list of the currently approved trainings and providers can be found at the Ohio Department of Education website here.
Information on how to access the professional development modules is located at the Ohio Department of Education website here . The modules feature pre- and post- assessments. Individuals are given a total of three attempts to successfully pass the assessment with a minimum score of 80%. Videos and additional resources are available within the system. While the content represents the required eighteen clock hours, it is possible some individuals may require more time to achieve the required score. If after three attempts, an individual in unable to successfully pass the assessment, they are asked to contact Dyslexia@education.ohio.gov. Scenarios may exist where an individual’s inability to successfully pass the assessment may create employment consequences.
These and/or any other assessments used to meet the state requirements for Dyslexia professional development or certification are subject to the Ethical Use of Assessments (OAC 3301-07-01) and other expectations which can be found at the Ohio Department of Education website here
More recent legislation postponed the mandatory start date for screenings and interventions until the Fall of 2023. For districts who chose to implement in 2022, a list of universal screeners (Tier 1) is currently available. ODE continues to solicit vendors for the 2023-2024 approved list. Efforts will be made to ensure consistency from year to year but may depend on vendor programs, and other factors. ODE will not be creating a list of Tier Two screeners.
OEA supports the appropriate identification and use of quality research intervention methods specific to students who are identified as ‘at-risk’ for and/or having 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 that the guidebook needs to do more to clearly differentiate best practices as optional as opposed to requirements of 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.