Ohio House’s version of budget cuts back on proposed funding to science of reading

The House’s budget allocates $44 million for science of reading curricula, $21.5 million each year for next two years to offer science of reading instruction for educators

By: - May 12, 2023 4:45 am

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The science of reading remains in Ohio’s proposed operating budget, but the House cut back on the amount of money that would be allocated toward funding the implementation. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s budget — which was introduced earlier this year — included $64 million for science of reading curricula, $43 million each year for the next two years to offer science of reading instruction for educators, and $12 million to support 100 literacy coaches in schools and districts. 

The Ohio House budget recently approved their version of the budget which includes $44 million for science of reading curricula, $21.5 million each year for the next two years to offer science of reading instruction for educators, and $6 million in fiscal year 2024 and $12 million in fiscal year 2025 for literacy coaches. 

The science of reading is based on decades of research that shows how the human brain learns to read and incorporates phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

The budget is in the Senate and must be signed by June 30 for it to take effect on July 1, the first day of the new state fiscal year.

Professional development 

The House cut in half the amount of money allocated for teacher stipends for professional development to train teachers in the science of reading. 

DeWine’s budget proposal would have given $1,200 stipends for teachers in grades K-5, English language teachers in grades 6-12, intervention specialists and instructional coaches. There would also be $400 stipends for middle and high schoolers teachers in other subject areas. 

The House’s budget cut the stipends in half to $600 and $200, respectively. 

“These are hours that will happen outside of a teacher’s workday and should be compensated at a rate comparable to a teacher’s daily rate,” Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper said in her testimony in front of the Senate Education Committee. “In order for this to happen, the budget will need to provide districts with the funds for this compensation.”

She supports the science of reading, but criticizes how DeWine put it in the budget. 

“The unilateral rollout of this policy by Governor DeWine was a missed opportunity to bring educator’s voices to the table,” she said in her testimony. “This would have allowed this policy change to be a collaborative effort rather than yet another political mandate imposed on educators without input or respect for our professional expertise.”

Washington Local Schools near Toledo switched to the science of reading during the 2018-19 school year and some of their teachers have gone through Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling professional development training and Orton-Gillingham training provided by the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education. 

“Our struggling readers definitely are able to become successful decoders and as a result successful, fluent readers over time,” Molly Chamberlin, the district’s curriculum consultant, told OCJ. “It may take more time than other children, but that’s huge.” 

Three-cueing 

The House’s version of the budget kept the ban in place that would prevent teachers from using the “three-cueing” approach in lessons, but changed the definition to any model of teaching students to read based on meaning, structure and syntax, and visual cues.

The three-cueing method encourages children to read words by asking three questions: Does it make sense? Does it sound right? Does it look right?

Both state teacher’s unions and some educators have issues with this provision in the budget. 

“Banning other methods only adds a nuanced political element that creates anxiety and divisiveness in a situation where everyone should be pulling together,” Cropper said during her testimony. 

The Senate Education Committee didn’t have any questions for Cropper, but chairman Andrew Brenner, R-Delaware, gave her some feedback. 

“You make some good points here that I agree with,” Brenner said. 

Jeffery L. Williams, a retired literacy coach from the Solon City School District near Cleveland, wants the language in the bill mentioning three-cueing removed. 

“Banning this would be saying that no reading approach would be available to teachers to use,” Williams said in his testimony. “This would cause mass confusion in districts, at universities, and in classrooms across Ohio.”

Emily Rodgers, an assistant professor at Ohio State University’s College of Education, also wants the ban on three cueing to be removed from the budget.

“Banning any instructional approach is a dangerous precedent. What’s next? Banning the teaching of evolution?” Rodgers wrote in her written testimony. 

Louisiana and Arkansas both have laws on the books that ban curriculum that includes three-cueing

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.

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Megan Henry
Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the last five years reporting on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.

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