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Budget Bill Reading Instruction Changes: What You Need to Know

in Education, News

This is Part 4 in a Series of Legal Updates the Education Law Group will be providing on House Bill 33…

House Bill 33, the “budget bill,” modified and clarified various student-reading requirements as schools enter the 2023-2024 school year and beyond. Importantly, these changes affect the current dyslexia laws and Third Grade Reading Guarantee, create curriculum requirements tied to the science of reading, and address literacy instruction for educators in the higher education setting.

Dyslexia Requirements

    • District staff must complete the requisite 18 hours of dyslexia professional development, as follows:
      • For teachers hired before April 12, 2021:
        • Teaching or providing special education instruction for students in grades K-1– by the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year;
        • Teaching or providing special education instruction for students in grades 2-3, including special education instruction – by September 15, 2024; and
        • Those providing special education instruction for students in grades 4-12 – by September 15, 2025.
      • For teachers hired after April 12, 2021:
        • Must complete dyslexia training by the later of two years after they were hired, or
        • By the date above, unless the teacher received training in a different district.
    • Dyslexia screening measures must align with the student’s grade level of enrollment at the time the screening is administered.
    • Districts are required to administer the tier one dyslexia screening measure to transfer students during the classes’ regular scheduled screening or within 30 days after: 1) enrollment; or 2) a parent/guardian’s request and consent (for a grade-level for which screening is not required that school year).
    • If a transfer student was administered a dyslexia screening in a prior district during the same school year, as documented in the student’s records, the new district is not required to administer another screening during the same school year.

    Third Grade Reading Guarantee

    • These specific changes go into effect October 3, 2023.
    • Requires schools that retained students for the 2023-2024 school year based solely on the student’s third grade reading achievement assessment in reading in the 2022-2023 school year to promote those students to the 4th grade unless the student’s parent/guardian requests the student continue to be retained for the 2023-2024 school year. However, students promoted under this section must continue to receive intensive reading instruction in the same manner as a student retained under RC 3313.608 (e.g., intense remediation services in reading that address areas of deficiencies, including not less than 90 minutes of reading instruction per day).
    • Allows a student to move on to 4th grade if the student’s parent “in consultation with the student’s reading teacher and building principal” requests that the student be promoted, regardless of the student’s reading level. However, students promoted under this section must continue to receive intensive reading instruction in the same manner as a student retained under RC 3313.608.
    • Requires written notification to parents/guardians of a student reading below grade level on the diagnostic assessment to include a statement that details the connection between the child’s reading proficiency and long-term outcomes of success related to proficiency in reading, in addition to the previously-required notice requirements.
    • Reading improvement and monitoring plans (for students requiring reading intervention services under RC 3313.608) must be developed and provided until the student achieves the required level of skill in reading for the student’s current grade level, and include the previously identified requirements of RC 3313.608(C)(1)-(6) as well as:
      • High-dosage tutoring opportunities aligned with the student’s classroom instruction through a state-approved vendor (from the list of high-quality tutoring vendors under RC 3301.136) or a locally approved opportunity that aligns with high-dosage tutoring best practices, including additional instruction time of at least three days per week, or at least 50 hours over 36 weeks.

    New Literacy Instructional Materials Provision

    • Effective October 3, 2023.
    • Requires ODE to compile a list of high-quality core curriculum and instructional materials in English language arts and a list of evidence-based reading intervention programs that are aligned with the science of reading and strategies for effective literacy techniques, and requires each school district, community school, and STEM school to use these, beginning no later than the 2024-2025 school year.
    • Defines the “science of reading” as an interdisciplinary body of scientific evidence that:
      1. Informs how students learn to read and write proficiently,
      2. Explains why some students have difficulty with reading and writing,
      3. Indicates that all students benefit from explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and writing to become effective readers, and
      4. Does not rely on any model of teaching students to read based on meaning, structure and syntax, and visual cues, including a three-cueing approach.
    • Prohibits a district or school from using the “three-cueing approach” (any model of teaching students to read based on meaning, structure and syntax, and visual cues) to teach a student to read unless that district or school applies for and receives a waiver from ODE, unless the student has an individualized education program that explicitly indicates use of the three-cueing approach or a reading improvement and monitoring plan. ODE will consider a district’s or school’s grade on the state report card, including early literacy, in assessing a waiver request.
    • Requires each district or school to report its ELA curriculum and instructional materials for grades pre-K-5 and reading intervention programs used for grades pre-K-12 to EMIS.

    Educator Preparation

    • Requires the Chancellor of the Department of Higher Education, in consultation with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to establish metrics to ensure that each educator training program includes evidence-based strategies for effective literacy instruction aligned to the science of reading, including phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary development, and is part of a structured literacy program.
    • Requires the Chancellor to develop an audit process to address programs that are not in alignment with these literacy requirements.

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    Weston Hurd LLP attorneys regularly assist school districts in all aspects of school law. For further information please contact Lisa Woloszynek at lwoloszynek@westonhurd.com or any of the education law attorneys