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Education Station: Mandatory dyslexia testing to start next school year in Ohio

Ohio students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade will be screened for early detection. 80–90% of all Americans with learning disabilities are dyslexic.

OHIO, USA — In the 2022-23 school year, all Ohio students in kindergarten through third grade will be required to take a dyslexia screening test. It’s a first for the state, and part of Governor DeWine’s HB-436 dyslexia law to help identify the disorder in the youngest among us.

"The earlier the intervention, the better for students. So, that’s a good thing," says Carol Perry of Children’s Dyslexia Centers.

Dyslexia is a neuro-cognitive disorder that affects a person’s ability to speak, read, spell and appreciate the individual sounds and nuances of spoken language. It’s on a spectrum from mild to severe and is largely genetic.

"My son, he’s in sixth grade. He’s 12. And my daughter is in fourth grade. She is 9," says local parent Sarah Lawlor.

Both of Lawlor’s children – as well as her husband - are dyslexic. Her children were screened very young and given solid education plans tailored to fit their individual needs. She supports the mandatory dyslexia screenings.

"I think it’s wonderful. I think anytime dyslexia is brought up in schools is a positive thing. If I hadn’t known about it, we would’ve gone through 1st and 2nd grade not realizing why my kid’s not learning," says Lawlor.

For the past six months, the Department of Education has been putting the finishing touches on the Ohio Dyslexia Guidebook, to give school districts the best practices for screening students for dyslexia. Many students suffering academically may not know they’re actually dyslexic.

"They’re feeling less-than, they’re feeling they’re not completing the task just as well as the student next to them. They’re overwhelmed and they’re feeling educationally defeated," says Mary Jo O’Neill, special education lawyer & parent advocate with the law firm Hickman & Lowder Co.

20% of the U.S. population has dyslexia, which is the most common of all neurocognitive disorders. About 80–90% of all Americans with learning disabilities are dyslexic - making early screening and intervention that much more vital to long-term success.

"You would be surprised; some of the greatest entrepreneurs – from the past and currently – are known to be dyslexic," says Perry.

The kindergarten through third-grade mandatory dyslexia screening will only affect the 2022-23 school year. Every school year after that, only kindergartners will be required to screen for dyslexia. But any 1st through 6th graders at increased risk or who may be showing signs of dyslexia can be screened anytime, at the request of a parent.

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