BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Governor DeWine was at Paul C. Bunn school Thursday to talk about the importance of literacy.

DeWine has been on a tour of classrooms across the state to observe how the “science of reading” has been implemented in lessons.

The approach is based on research that shows a child’s brain needs to first understand the different sounds in spoken language and then be able to connect these sounds to written letters, blending the sounds to make words.

Preschool teacher Melinda Dubic says the focus is on learning phonetic sounds of letters and words.

“They’re doing syllables and continue this on as they go through their continued education,” Dubic said.

The pedagogical practice for literacy instruction four or five years ago and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the lockdowns that followed, but teachers say they’ve seen students making great strides now with their literacy skills.

“As a preschool program, we’re further ahead now than we were at this point last year, and even at the end of the year last year,” said Ashley Carano, literacy coach.

Research shows Ohio students have fallen behind in reading.

“Forty percent of our third graders are not reading at third-grade level. Forty percent. We have to change that,” DeWine said.

DeWine said his goal is to eventually have every school district in the state teaching this way, backing it up with state funding.

“At the end of the day, that’s the shift we want to see for kids, right? It’s life-changing for them,” said Jodi Cosek, preschool teacher.

Although DeWine wants to spend $ 64 million for education in the next budget, lawmakers are trying to cut into that.

“We have to spend the money to do this. There’s is nothing more important than getting these kids so they can read,” DeWine said.

The Governor says he’ll work to get the support he needs to get his plans approved.