Jason A. Brasno
Ohio's Dyslexia Delay
The Ohio General Assembly passed legislation in April 2021 concerning the screening of and intervention for children with dyslexia. Among the requirements outlined in these dyslexia support laws were the creation of an Ohio Dyslexia Committee, a Dyslexia Guidebook, teacher professional development requirements, and universal dyslexia screening for selected grades levels.
One of the critical pieces of these new regulations was the implementation, beginning with the upcoming 2022-23 school year, of a universal dyslexia screening assessment for all of Ohio’s public school students in grades K-3 as well the administration of a dyslexia screening for any child in grades 4-6 by parent or guardian request. The purpose of the universal screening is to identify students who display characteristics of or are at risk for dyslexia - this early identification is then used to guide instruction and intervention through a multi-tiered systems of support model.
Unfortunately, as all too often occurs within our education system, the gap between aspirations grounded in students’ best interests and implementation by our schools continues to widen.
In June of this year, mere months before these screenings were to begin, the Assembly passed and Governor Mike DeWine signed additional legislation that delays some of these requirements until the 2023-24 school year. A major impact of this newest bill is that the universal dyslexia screening for all students in grades K-3, as well as the parents' right to request a screening for their students in grades 4-6, has been setback by at least one year.
While it may be difficult to truly determine which forces were behind the postponed implementation of this vital support, one would be hard pressed to imagine that this was lobbied for by the 64% of Ohio’s 4th grade students and 62% of its 8th grade students who were below the proficient reading level as defined by the National Association of Educational Progress 2019 report. Furthermore, for the current 15 to 20% (almost 1 out of every 5) of learners who are displaying characteristics of dyslexia - this change provides little relief for the current struggles they are facing when it comes to learning to read.
Struggling young readers experience a range of negative impacts on all areas of their academic and social-emotional development; These can lead to many challenges throughout their adult years.
The bottom line is that Ohio’s struggling readers cannot wait for systemic aspiration to catch up with implementation. Parents and guardians do have the ability to make requests for assessments and correspondingly appropriate interventions and instruction for their children. The time to act is now. While the education system continues to kick the can down the road, one must honestly ask -
Who is advocating for our children?