Ohio is taking major steps toward ensuring that all students across the state are given an effective education in reading. Gov. Mike DeWine recently proposed a bill that would require all schools in the state to use the Science of Reading in their classrooms by fall of 2024.
The Science of Reading is a phonics-based approach to teaching reading. It is based on the belief that students should be taught to sound out and recognize words rather than using context clues and guessing to figure out a word’s meaning. This approach has been gaining in popularity as research has shown its effectiveness in helping students become proficient readers.
DeWine’s proposed bill would also ban “three cueing” materials or lessons — an approach considered the foundation of popular teaching methods known as Whole Language, Balanced Literacy or Reading Recovery. This would be a major shift for the state, as currently Ohio does not track how many teachers are trained in the Science of Reading or how many elementary schools are using it to teach children.
In order to make this transition, DeWine has asked for $129 million from the legislature to retrain teachers and replace elementary school textbooks. He has also set aside $43 million in each of the next two years for the Ohio Department of Education to create training in the Science of Reading for any teacher who hasn’t had it, run training sessions, and pay teachers a stipend for attending.
While DeWine’s plan to back the Science of Reading won strong applause at his speech and praise from some Republicans, there has been no debate yet on his ban, which only became public when bill language was released a week ago. One of the state’s teachers unions has raised concerns about mandating a single approach to teaching reading.
DeWine’s proposal is part of a larger trend in the country, as other states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, New Hampshire, Florida, West Virginia, Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma and South Carolina are considering similar bans on three-cueing approaches. This move is in response to research that has shown the effectiveness of phonics-based approaches to teaching reading in helping students become more proficient readers.
Though it remains to be seen whether DeWine’s bill will pass, it is clear that the state of Ohio is taking a major step to ensure that all students are given an effective education in reading.