Ohio Department of Education and Workforce Reveals Findings of Science of Reading Survey

Next year, Ohio school districts and community schools are required to utilize core curriculum and instructional materials endorsed by the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce for English language arts and reading intervention programs. This directive is part of the state’s science of reading implementation.

The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (ODEW) recently unveiled their approved list for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, with approximately one-third of the state’s districts and community schools already incorporating at least one of the initial core reading instruction curricula.

This initiative is a crucial component of ODEW’s endeavor to introduce the science of reading into classrooms beginning the upcoming school year.

In Ohio’s two-year budget totaling $191 billion, allocations were made specifically for the science of reading. This includes $86 million for educator professional development, $64 million for curriculum and instructional materials, and $18 million designated for literacy coaches.

Grounded in extensive research on how the human brain learns to read, the science of reading encompasses phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Ohio joins 37 other states in enacting laws or implementing policies related to evidence-based reading practices since 2013, as reported by Education Week.

Governor Mike DeWine stressed the paramount importance of reading proficiency stating, “There’s nothing more important than young people knowing how to read.” He emphasized the significance of implementing appropriate curricula and ensuring teachers align with the science of reading methodology, anticipating substantial improvements in the years ahead.

Revealing statistics indicated that 40% of Ohio’s third-graders lacked proficiency in reading, with an additional 33% struggling in the same area prior to the pandemic, highlighting the urgency for intervention.

In steering efforts to enhance literacy statewide, DeWine expressed his personal commitment to monitoring progress closely, recognizing the potential impact of these measures.

To lay the groundwork for the science of reading implementation, ODEW initiated a comprehensive survey to assess the current usage of instructional materials and the professional development educators are undergoing.

Survey results unveiled that 789 school districts and community schools adhere to consistent core instructional materials from kindergarten to fifth grade, with 93% utilizing published curriculum and the remaining 7% relying on locally crafted materials for core literacy instruction.

Regarding professional development, around 70% of school districts and community schools reported their teachers already completed science of reading training before the current academic year. The budget provisions include stipends for teachers in various roles to receive specialized training in this field.

Under the stipend scheme, K-5 teachers, English language teachers in grades 6-12, intervention specialists, English learner teachers, reading specialists, and instructional coaches will be eligible for $1,200 stipends. Meanwhile, middle and high school teachers in other subjects will receive $400 stipends.

All educators are required to fulfill their professional development obligations by July 2025 unless they have previously completed a similar program. DeWine acknowledged the necessity for such training, particularly for educators lacking prior exposure to the science of reading.

Additionally, the Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor is mandated to establish an audit process ensuring alignment between educator training programs and the science of reading instruction principles.

Acknowledging the significance of literacy coaches, the budget will sponsor 100 literacy coaching positions aimed at assisting schools with lower levels of proficiency in literacy, as identified by their performance in state assessments.

Survey data revealed that over 400 schools and districts do not currently have literacy coaches, while 18 institutions have between six and ten literacy coaches, and 10 schools reported having more than ten literacy coaches.

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