Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee

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February 2013

By Rebecca Tolson, M. Ed., CALT, QI

In 2011, Ohio passed two dyslexia laws, a feat that many states strive to duplicate. Since that time, the Ohio Dyslexia Legislation Group has continued working toward strengthening those laws. Ohio recently passed legislation in an attempt to strengthen its Third Grade Reading Guarantee to give greater emphasis to reading instruction and intervention in the early grades. As a part of the new legislation, teacher credentialing is being removed after 2013-14 as a viable way for teachers to be qualified to work with students who have reading improvement and monitoring plans. The Ohio Dyslexia Legislation Group drafted a response letter to this change. We are pleased to share this collaborative document.

January 31, 2013

To: The Ohio Department of Education Third Grade Guarantee Committee

Pursuant to the January 23, 2013 version of the Teacher Credentials portion of the Third Grade Guarantee regulations, The Northern Ohio (NOB/IDA), Central Ohio (COB/IDA) and Ohio Valley (OVB/IDA) Branches of the International Dyslexia Association offers their response to the notion that “credentials from a SBRR (Scientifically Based on Reading Research) program list” no longer will be included as of 2014-15.

Reading failure is a national crisis; a large portion of students struggling with reading have dyslexia (Birsch, J. & Shaywitz, S., 2011). The evidence is clear that our teachers lack training in how to identify and remediate students with dyslexia (Moats, 2009; Spear-Swerling, 2008; Walsh et al., 2006). Ohio’s schools are failing these students and universities are not adequately addressing the problem in our teacher education programs.

Ohio H.B. 157 passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate and was signed by Governor Kasich in December of 2011. This dyslexia professional development law passed to give classroom teachers the training in language that they did not receive in their pre-service education. A standard degree in elementary education from our accredited universities provides inadequate training in terms of teaching students who require more intensive instruction in order to develop literacy skills. If that were not the case, the Third Grade Guarantee would not exist. The root of this problem may stem from an inadequate workforce of post-secondary educators with advanced degrees at the Master’s and Doctoral levels who are unable to provide teachers with the tools they need to address the needs of unsuccessful readers (Aaron, P.G. , Malatesha Joshi, R., Quatroche, D., 2008). Historically, some teachers have chosen to return to school in order to obtain this type of training, even attending schools out of state. Likely for the majority of teachers, returning to school in another location is not a viable option. Therefore, some teachers sought to obtain this type of training via Certificate based programs, often at their own expense and on their own time. Furthermore, other teachers throughout Ohio work in districts who have adopted Certificate based SBRR programs. These districts have made large investments in terms of human resources and financial commitment. Certainly this cannot be ignored.

Much research has been done throughout the country, but very little of the research has had any impact on how reading is taught. There is a disconnection between science and educational practice. The scientific findings were obtained in research funded by Reid Lyon, formerly of The National Institute of Health and Human Development. (Allington, R.L. & Woodside-Jiron H. (1999). The politics of Literacy teaching: How “research” shaped educational policy, Educational Researcher, 28, 4-13)

The NOB/IDA, COB/IDA and OVB/IDA, Board of Directors and Membership recommend the ODE Third Grade Guarantee Committee continue to recognize Certificate programs as a credential for teachers approved to work with students receiving a Reading Improvement Plan for the following reasons:

  1. Certificate programs are outcome based.
  2. Certificate and training programs in dyslexia are structured in accordance with The International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading and are accredited by the International Multisensory Structured Education Council (IMSLEC).
  3. The Chancellor, Jim Petro, has approved the OBR Task Force’s work in mapping the language link of the IDA Standards to the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession (OSTP).  The Ohio Board of Regents has approved new pre-service teacher standards based on The International Dyslexia Association’s (IDA) Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading to insure that candidates are receiving quality training under a certified professional.  The assurance that courses align with IDA standards is approved by professional organizations such as IMSLEC and AOGPE. (Board of Regents Dyslexia Task Force)
  4. Certificate programs provide teachers with the knowledge in language and its structure, which is the basis for student success in learning to read (Moats, L.C., 2009) (Multisensory Structured Language Programs: Content and Principles of Instruction http://www.readingrockets.org/article/6332/).
  5. These Certificate programs are working.  Many parents are seeking certified tutors for remediation outside of the school day to teach their children to read.  These students are finding success.
    “There is growing body of evidence supporting multisensory teaching. Current research, much of it supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), converges on the efficacy of explicit structured language teaching for children with dyslexia. Young children in structured, sequential, multisensory intervention programs, who were also trained in phonemic awareness, made significant gains in decoding skills. These multisensory approaches used direct, explicit teaching of letter-sound relationships, syllable patterns, and meaning of word parts. Studies in clinical settings showed similar results for a wide range of ages and abilities.” (Simultaneous Multisensory Institute of Language Arts)

    Clinical Studies:

    Clinical Studies of Multisensory Structured Language Education for Students with Dyslexia and Related Disorders
    Curtis W. McIntyre, Ph.D. and Joyce S. Pickering, LSH/CCC, MA, editors, 1995
    International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC)

    An Evaluation of the Dyslexia Training Program: A Multisensory Method for Promoting Reading in Students with Reading Disabilities
    T. Oakland, J. Black, G. Stanford, N. Nussbaum, and R. Balise, 1998.

    Teaching Reading in an Inner City School through a Multisensory Teaching Approach
    R. Malatesha Joshi, Mary Dahlgren and Regina Boulware-Gooden, 2002

  6. Until post-secondary institutions “catch up” in terms of training pre-service teachers as mandated by the OBR, continued recognition of the Certificate based programs is warranted.  Please see Barriers to the Preparation of Highly Qualified Teachers in Reading (Smartt & Reschly, 2007).

Please consider these organization’s recommendations in the spirit in which they are offered, that is to improve the literacy skills of those attending public schools in Ohio by recognizing and improving the training educators possess to assist our states’ struggling readers.


The Northern Ohio Branch of the IDA
Board of Directors and Membership
P.O. Box 401
Mentor, Ohio 44061
(216) 556-0883
The Ohio Valley Branch of the IDA
Board of Directors and Membership
P.O. Box 54609
Cincinnati, Ohio 45254
(513) 651-4747
The Central Ohio Branch of the IDA
Board of Directors and Membership
2948 Scioto Place
Columbus, Ohio 43221
(614) 899-5711

Rebecca Tolson, M. Ed., CALT, QI, a board member of NOB/IDA, is the owner of Tolson Dyslexia Services, LLC.  She is an adjunct professor at Ashland University and Akron University and an active member of the Ohio Legislation Committee.

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