The Tricks and Treats of Ohio’s Dyslexia Legislation Requirements

Ohio’s district and school leaders are currently learning about and having collaborative discussions around Ohio’s Dyslexia Guidebook and the connected requirements set forth by recent legislation.  In short, there are requirements around reading science-aligned professional development, screening and the parent/guardian notification processes, and the development of a structured literacy certification process.  As educators navigate through the components of the legislation, it is important to keep in mind the following “tricks” and “treats”…

Using TRICKS to Support Positive Change:

Trick #1:  Dig into Ohio’s Dyslexia Guidebook

The Ohio Dyslexia Guidebook  is structured to provide support around the dyslexia support laws and connected best practices.  This resource is divided into four sections as follows:

  • Section 1 explains best practices in literacy instruction.
  • Section 2 details the methods for screening and progress monitoring to meet legal requirements.
  • Section 3 describes methods for intervention and remediation with meeting legal requirements.
  • Section 4 outlines a structured literacy certification process to support districts to meet legal requirements.

District and school leaders that read through and reference this guidebook can be expected to have an easier time creating necessary change for their staff and students.  Carving out some time in your schedule to read through this resource now will save time in the future as it not only helps to guide thinking about how to create or improve structures and practices to support increased student achievement, but provides guidance around how to implement the connected legislative requirements.

Trick #2:  Audit your Systems

After reading through Ohio’s Dyslexia Guidebook, a systemic audit might be useful.  Education leaders may want to restructure teams, or evaluate the types of data being analyzed and/or programs being used.  Has your district or school selected curricular materials and connected assessments that are aligned with structured literacy?  Do your teams not only contain persons who are knowledgeable, trained, and/or certified in practices to support students who are at risk, but also include a variety of stakeholders with different backgrounds and perspectives?  Is there a strong communication loop between teams?  Refer to the R-TFI 2.0 Elementary Edition and/or the R-TFI Secondary Edition for additional support around systemic self-assessment.

Trick #3:  Network with other Districts in your Region or State

Many districts are finding that connecting with others who are working to continuously improve their literacy instruction and systems is useful.  Some districts may have begun this work long before the dyslexia legislation was finalized.  Reaching out to leaders who are further along in this process should help you to anticipate and remove potential barriers to progress and provide ideas around how to structure support to staff members as changes are taking place.  Participating in collaborative conversations with other district and school leaders can help to provide new and different ideas and forms of support.  If you aren’t sure where to start, join our region’s Literacy Leaders Network.  (Additional networking sessions will be scheduled throughout this year.)

TREATS as a Result of this Work

Treat #1:  Positive Impact of Highly Trained Stakeholders

As leaders learn more about reading science-aligned instructional practices through this process, they will be better able to support their teachers, staff, students, and communities.  Teachers who participate in the 18 hours of professional learning will gain knowledge to strengthen their practices in order to better meet the needs of their students.  All who participate in improving practices or aligned discussions will benefit from a deeper understanding about how to support literacy achievement in their schools.  Ultimately, when we know better, we do better, and our communities will feel the positive difference.

Treat #2:  Benefits to ALL Students

One misconception that has arisen throughout this process is that this legislation will only impact those students who have or may have dyslexia.  Many districts have now realized that the requirements outlined in these laws are designed to support ALL of their students, as they promote effective screening practices and evidence-based reading instruction.  They also incorporate best practice regarding communication with families, and provide a timeline for K-3 Teachers and 4-12 Intervention Specialists to experience up-to-date professional learning that is aligned with the science of reading.  Quality instruction, effective screening and notification processes, and connected systemic improvements (including structured literacy certified personnel having a voice on multidisciplinary teams), will ultimately benefit ALL students.

Treat #3:  Stronger Systems to Support Sustainability

As educators work through the legislative requirements, and strengthen practices and processes in their schools, systemic change will begin to occur that can ultimately provide a sustainable model on which districts can rely.  This will enable leadership to continuously offer the targeted support necessary to achieve staff and student success.  Well-informed teachers and staff will experience fewer barriers to teaching, and students will experience fewer barriers to learning.  Using Ohio’s Dyslexia Guidebook and aligned legislation requirements to support instructional and systemic change is key to effectively serve the students in our communities for years to come.

Change and Continuous Improvement

Change and continuous improvement is not always easy.  This can be deep, difficult, and prolonged work.  It is up to us to engage in that work so that we can feel confident we are providing the best possible experience for the students and teachers in our classrooms.  This work can change the trajectory of our students’ lives, and ultimately provide a better quality of life for their teachers and community members.  We cannot afford to not take this seriously.  The Ohio Dyslexia Committee has prioritized the use of research and evidence as the backbone of this work.  The potential impact of aligned positive changes currently being made in our surrounding districts is something we can call feel hopeful about.

Mary Williams

I am a School Improvement Consultant and the Regional Early Literacy Specialist for State Support Team 13. I love animals and music along with spending time outdoors. My current favorite quote is: "Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later." - Og Mandino