As of January 2021, Governor DeWine of Ohio signed the “Right to Read Law” (HB436).
The Law directed the Ohio Department of Education to set up the “Ohio Dyslexia Committee” who were tasked with developing a Guidebook for public school districts. The International Dyslexia Association branch in Central Ohio, along with 5 school districts in the Columbus Area developed a “Road Map” in 2019 – 2020 (https://coh.dyslexiaida.org/). The Ohio Dyslexia Committee will likely use some of the same components in the Guidebook.
In Ohio, Public and Charter Schools will be required to screen students for dyslexia, on a yearly basis, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Part of the law will set up a certification process for teachers in Multisensory Structured Literacy reading instruction. The reading curriculum in school districts will need to align with the Science of Reading and the recommendations of the National Reading Panel, 2000 (NIH #4754). The Guidebook will address other issues, including screening tools, professional development, establishment of multidisciplinary teams, assessment, and progress reporting. The Guidebook is due to be released on December 31, 2021.
What prompted the State of Ohio to move in this direction? For 40 years little improvement has been reported in NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores in Reading, across the United States. In 2019, 4th graders in 17 states scored lower in Reading compared to 2017 results. Ohio and our neighbors in Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana saw scores decline. Only 1 state, Mississippi, had improved scores in Reading. Mississippi, the poorest state in the US, now has 4th graders reading on par with the national average. Emily Hanford, the senior education correspondent for APM Reports, has been following the progress made in Mississippi over several years. It began with training all teachers in the Science of Reading. (https://features.apmreports.org/reading/).
Let’s hope that the changes proposed in the State of Ohio for public schools will result in an improvement in the teaching of reading for all students. Dr. Timothy Odegard noted that students with dyslexia can flourish when sustained, direct and intensive instruction is delivered by a highly knowledgeable teacher. (Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Winter Edition 2019.)
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