OHIO statewide literacy campaign to improve spelling of Oiho


Ohio = O-H…I-O

While the average American has no problem spelling short words, one state is still working to improve its literacy rates. One Ohio resident described his challenge with spelling words, “Spelling has always been hard for me. I know my alphabet in order, but I just get stuck trying to put letters together to form the word that I am thinking of.”

Since 1982 when the state began its spelling campaign, “Ohio Speak and Spell,” Ohio residents have improved their ability to remember all four letters of the word and in the proper order (well technically there’s only 3 letters – but saying that in public is likely to cause bruising to suddenly appear on your face).

The state was alerted to the endemic spelling problem when research revealed that 98% of Ohio residents incorrectly spelled the word Ohio on their driver’s license application.

The news was especially troubling since the application had that exact word (spelt correctly) at the top of the application form.

Once the state realized the severity of the problem, they quickly designed a literacy campaign that included hand signals and a tag-team approach.

The chief sociologist on the literacy committee, Jeff Quinn, discovered in his research that most Ohioans were getting stuck spelling “Ohio” after the first two letters. That is when the light bulb came on.

Quinn is credited with devising a game that included someone else beginning the spelling of the word, and the friend completing the spelling. Quinn pilot tested the idea on preschool students in Columbus.

“Spelling Ohio is so easy now. I only have to remember two letters,” said Chris, an original focus group member, with a huge grin and YMCA like handsignals, “O-H-.“

“We’re not done yet,” says Quinn, “We have plans to teach our state how to spell two or three more words.”

The campaign to teach Ohio residents how to spell “state” hasn’t quite caught on yet, but with enough planning and enough people joining to spell this word, Ohioans will be mastering their second word in no time.

Reporter: Jacob Elwart
Images by: BrettSpivak and JZFish

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