OSPA Executive Director Ann Brennan met with Sen. Andy Brenner and others Aug. 30 to discuss the potential for legislation that would change the Ohio law on the developmental disability age range.
In partnership with Madison Champaign ESC School Psychology Coordinator Monika Aune, Ms. Brennan put forth OSPA’s position that the Ohio DD age range should be changed to reflect federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. The federal law sets the age range as 3 to 8 but Ohio law is ages 3 to 6.
Sen. Brenner, the Senate Education Committee chairman, said he would share a recording of the Zoom meeting with other legislators and thinks there could be support for such a change. OSPA will continue to work with the senator to move any bill forward.
Ohio Dyslexia Committee
Ms. Brennan has been attending meetings of the Ohio Dyslexia Committee, which has met monthly since May to create a guidebook for schools and has a deadline of Dec. 31. She has also been in close contact with the school psychologist on the panel, Chinnon Jacquay.
The panel must provide guidance on how to “develop multi-sensory literacy professional development for teachers; assist school districts in establishing a multidisciplinary team; determine what data is required and how to report the data; develop kindergarten academic standards in reading and writing that incorporate multi-sensory literacy; provide on ODE’s website training for teachers at minimal cost; identify reliable evidence-based screening and interventions measures that evaluate the literacy skills of students enrolled in K-5 using a multi-sensory structured literacy program,” Ms. Brennan said.
During the July meeting, committee members debated whether a practicum should be required of educators who want to be certified in providing dyslexia-related instruction and interventions. They also considered whether all K-3 teachers should be required to obtain certification. Future providers of the training would be approved by ODE in consultation with the ODC, Ms. Brennan said.
Also discussed was the makeup of the multidisciplinary team and what type of guidance should be developed. “Questions that were posed included should the guidance provide a model list of professionals who could serve on the teams, or be more prescriptive,” Ms. Brennan said. “Another question that came up was whether the guidance should allow for existing school-based teams, such as an IAT team, to serve as the multidisciplinary team.
“Additionally, the question was asked if the guidance should also include a process for identification of a student with dyslexia.”
The language in the law is a “student at risk” for dyslexia.
The August meeting resulted in a vote on what type of training would be acceptable for a dyslexia certification. The law already says these individuals may have certification at a certified level, or higher, from a research-based, multi-sensory structured literacy program; or any other certification as recognized by the Ohio Dyslexia Committee. The panel voted to define “appropriate certification” as:
- Completion of an independent training program or higher education program accredited by the International Dyslexia Association at the Accreditation Plus level.
- Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist Certification from the Center for Effective Reading Instruction.
- Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist Certification from the Center for Effective Reading Instruction
- Certified Academic Language Practitioner from the Academic Language Therapy Association
- Certified Academic Language Therapist from the Academic Language Therapy Association
The latest meeting also entailed discussion on the intervention process and tying it into the existing Multi-Tiered System of Supports. The discussion revolved around when students would be recommended for Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions while also creating a strong Tier 1 reading system.
Ms. Brennan shared feedback about the need to focus on the interventions and “not bogged down in getting that identification label for students with disabilities right off the bat.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria will retire in September after five years leading the Department of Education. The State Board of Education initially appointed Deputy Superintendent John Richard as the interim chief, but Mr. Richard turned in his resignation letter Aug. 10, noting an Oct. 8 departure date.
Consequently, the state board held a special meeting Aug. 23 to name Stephanie Siddens, senior executive director of ODE’s Center for Student Supports, as interim superintendent effective Sept. 25. She is a 15-year veteran of the department.
In other business, the contentious topic of critical race theory and a July 2020 resolution passed by the board prompted another heated discussion at the July board meeting. The board ultimately voted 14-4 to seek an opinion from Attorney General Dave Yost on whether its 2020 resolution on racism and equity "confirms with state and federal laws and is within the legal authority of the board.”
School report cards, which are due to be released in October, will look different this year. Short-term changes in law and an accountability waiver from the U.S. Department of Education mean this year’s grade cards will report all available data for recovery and improvement planning. Items like federal identification requirements are waived or paused for the school year.
The state board approved a revision of school operating standards on special education, which will next go to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review for approval.