Kathryn PerricoLisa-WoloszynekMarch 5, 2021

On January 9, 2021, Governor DeWine signed HB 436 into law. The law imposes significant new requirements on districts in relation to the identification and education of students who may have dyslexia.

Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, districts will be required to establish a multi-sensory structured literacy certification process for teachers of students in grades K-3. This certification process will align with a guidebook that will be created by the Ohio Dyslexia Committee (ODC). This guidebook will contain information about best practices and methods for universal screening, intervention, and remediation for children with dyslexia or for those displaying dyslexic characteristics and tendencies. The ODC is to be comprised of eleven individuals such as a superintendent, elementary principal, classroom teacher, parent of a child with dyslexia, and other relevant stakeholders, who will have the authority to:

  • Recommend appropriate ratios for students to teachers certified in identifying and addressing dyslexia;
  • Recommend what other school personnel, such as psychologists or SLPs, should receive certification in identifying and addressing dyslexia; and
  • Consider and make recommendations regarding whether the required professional development, which will have specifically approved courses and clock hours, should also mandate the completion of a practicum.

Together, the ODC and Ohio Department of Education (ODE) will do the following for school districts:

  • Provide professional development;
  • Assist districts to develop multidisciplinary teams to address dyslexia;
  • Develop reporting mechanisms for the submission of student data;
  • Develop academic standards for kindergarten that incorporate a multi-sensory structured literacy program;
  • Provide training information; and
  • Identify evidence-based screening and intervention measures to evaluate the literacy skills of students in grades K-5.

In addition to the 2022-2023 certification process noted above, the following is a summary of what districts will be required to do in the upcoming school years, beginning in 2022-2023:

  • Select “reliable, valid, universal, and evidence-based” screening and intervention measures from those identified by the ODE and ODC to address literacy skills of students using a multi-sensory structured literacy program.
  • Establish a multidisciplinary team to administer the measures and analyze the results.
  • Administer tier one dyslexia screenings (from those identified by the ODC and ODE) to the following students in 2022-2023:
    • All students in grades K-3;
    • Students in grades 4-6 upon request of a student’s parent or guardian or request of a student’s teacher with the permission of that student’s parent or guardian;
    • Transfer students in kindergarten who transfer into the district or school during the regularly scheduled screening of the kindergarten class or within 30 days after enrollment; and
    • Transfer students in grades 1-6 who transfers into the district or school, within 30 days after enrollment.
  • Administer annual tier one dyslexia screenings (from those identified by the ODE and ODE) to the following students in 2023-2024 and thereafter:
    • All students in kindergarten;
    • Students in grades 1-6 upon request of a student’s parent or guardian or request of a student’s teacher with the permission of that student’s parent or guardian;
    • Transfer students in kindergarten who transfer into the district or school during the regularly scheduled screening of the kindergarten class or within 30 days after enrollment; and
    • Transfer students in grades 1-6 who transfer into the district or school, within 30 days after enrollment.
  • Identify each student at risk of dyslexia based on the results of the tier one screening and notify the student’s parent, guardian, or custodian.
  • Monitor the progress of each at-risk student toward attaining grade-level reading and writing skills (progress must be checked on at least every two weeks after the student is identified as at risk through week six, unless the district or school previously administered an additional tier two screening).
  • Administer a tier two screening measure to each at-risk student who does not show significant progress toward attaining grade-level reading and writing skills by the sixth week after the student is identified as at risk (or “in a timely manner” for transfer students identified as at risk of dyslexia).
  • Report the results of the tier two screening measure to the student’s parent or guardian within 30 days after the measure’s administration (information about reading development, the risk factors for dyslexia, and descriptions of evidence-based interventions must also be provided if the student is determined to be below the 20thpercentile).
  • Provide a student’s parent or guardian with a written explanation of the district’s or school’s structured literacy program if the student demonstrates markers for dyslexia.
  • Report the results of screening measures to the ODE.

Lastly, educators will be required to obtain professional development in dyslexia instruction (between 6 and 18 clock hours), beginning with the following staggered start (depending on the grades of students for which the teacher provides instruction):

    • 2022-2023: Any instruction in grades K-1, including special education
    • 2023-2024: Any instruction in grades 2-3, including special education
    • 2024-2025: Special education in grade 4-12

Any professional development coursework that is included on the forthcoming ODE-approved course list, and completed by a teacher prior to April 13, 2021, will count towards the required number of dyslexia-related professional development hours.

It is advisable that school districts begin to prepare for the substantial requirements that are forthcoming. As you prepare, please reach out to us with questions here. We are happy to help.

Kathryn Perrico is a partner at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law. She can be reached at kperrico@walterhav.com or at 216-928-2948. 

Lisa Woloszynek is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law. She can be reached at lwoloszynek@walterhav.com and at 216-619-7835.