Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Jul 10
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by Jess

To those of you who have tried (and some have succeeded) it seems like you need a secret handshake to get Orton-Gillingham training. After a quick search on the internet, it might appear that you need to fly to a destination that is most likely east of the Mississippi and requires at least two weeks of your time away from home. Then once you complete this two week training, you must dedicate the rest of your life to become ‘certified.’ But this is all an illusion, an illusion that really hampers the ability of very good people to get their knowledge and training to those who need it the most, the struggling kids.

Shattering the Illusion of Exclusivity

What is the illusion? Like special education is not a place, Orton-Gillingham is not a program, it is an approach. It is not ‘owned’ by any organization or publishing company. It is a theory, a teaching philosophy. There are many ways to implement the approach and many authors have done a great job adapting it to meet the needs of even the most struggling readers. So, yes, there is more than one place and one way to get trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach and some of it can be done in the comfort of your pajamas while sitting at a computer.

There is no better time than right now to set the record straight. When groups like Decoding Dyslexia are making changes in their states and mandating training for teachers in the Orton-Gillingham approach, we need to be very clear about where they can get trained and what that training should look like.

But before we move on, you should know that this is not an article about what Orton-Gillingham is, but instead, where it can be had. For information about the history of Orton-Gillingham, I invite you to visit this webpage:


Who can offer training in the Orton-Gillingham approach?

Don’t get me wrong, I think those who offer the training should be highly trained and highly successful in implementing the approach themselves before they train others.  However, they do not have to be disciples of any particular organization.

What should an Orton-Gillingham course include?

To be certified in Orton-Gillingham, the course should include the following components:

I offer the following guidelines for what training in Orton-Gillingham should include:

•          A comprehensive, up-to-date course on dyslexia (including recent scientific advances)

•          A simulation of dyslexia

•          A thorough explanation and demonstration of what multisensory teaching is and how to successfully implement it

•          A thorough explanation of the seven syllable types, spelling rules, blending, syllabication rules, spelling strategies, morphology, latin and greek roots

•          A unit about reading comprehension and fluency

•          A unit about teaching writing

•          A unit explaining accommodations

•          A unit discussing special education law and dyslexia

And most importantly:

•          A supervised practicum

This training is a process. A journey. A philosophical shift in how teachers think about teaching reading. It takes time to adjust, re-adjust, learn and practice. Simply giving a teacher a week-long training in the approach and then a script will not do. We need to make sure the teachers and districts who become mandated (or strongly encouraged) to learn this approach know their options so they can complete the training. But it does not require extensive travel and time or a secret handshake.

Your options

Below is a list of organizations that offer training in the Orton-Gillingham approach (forgive me if failed to include an obvious resource). Some of them vary in how they label the approach they are using and some are online – they are all good, accessible and most importantly they are effective.

Dyslexia Training Institute (online) – www.dyslexiatraininginstitute.org

Wilson Reading System (online and in-person) – www.wilsonlanguage.com

Barton Reading and Spelling System (in-person or by video) - www.BartonReading.com

Fairleigh Dickinson University (in – person) - http://view.fdu.edu/?id=1658

Institute for Multi-sensory Education (in-person) - http://www.orton-gillingham.com/

Academy of Orton-Gillingham (in-person) - http://www.ortonacademy.org/

Neuhaus Education Center (online and in-person) – http://www.neuhaus.org

See, I told you there are more ways than one to get this wonderful training. Now, let’s stop pretending anyone owns this wonderful intervention and get to the work of training as many people as possible and get this dyslexia thing under control!

Dr. Kelli Sandman-Hurley is the co-founder of the Dyslexia Training Institute (www.dyslexiatraininginstitute.org and www.dyslexiadr.com.) She is currently writing Putting the D in to the IEP and you can read excerpts at www.dyslexiadr.blogspot.com. She received her doctorate in Literacy with a specialization in reading and dyslexia from San Diego State University and the University of San Diego. Dr. Sandman-Hurley a Certified Special Education Advocate assisting parents and children through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and 504 Plan process. She is an adjunct professor of reading, literacy coordinator and a tutor trainer. Kelli is trained by a fellow of the Orton-Gillingham Academy and in the Lindamood-Bell, RAVE-O and Wilson Reading Programs. Kelli is the Past-President of the San Diego Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, as well as a board member of the Southern California Library Literacy Network (SCLLN). She is a professional developer for California Library Literacy Services (CLLS) as well as a Literacy Consultant for the San Diego Council on Literacy. She was awarded the Jane Johnson Fellowship and the Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) scholarship. Kelli has presented at numerous conferences as well as provided professional development for k-12 teachers. She is currently working on her book, Putting the D in IEP: A guide to dyslexia in the school system. Join the Dyslexia Training Institute at www.facebook.com/dyslexiatraining

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13 Responses to “Orton-Gillingham: Who, Where and Why?”

  1. I would just like to add that if one chooses to get training through an affiliation of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham, that some Fellows will do a supervised practicum via a video recording or over the internet via something like Skype or Facetime. If certification is a goal and there are no convenient locations, make sure that a supervised practicum is feasible and is not required to be done in person. The supervised practicum is essential to gaining a better understanding of how to successfully provide appropriate intervention/remediation to a struggling reader or a student with language difficulties.

    Also, if you would like to know more or are trying to decide if training is right for you, check out this 10 hour on-line training course for $49 available at https://training.epsbooks.com/training/servlet/courseaccess/CourseList which gives an overview of dyslexia and the Orton-Gillingham approach.

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  2. In the Washington DC metro area (Virginia, Maryland, DC), excellent training is available through the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center, http://www.asdec.org .

    Orton-Gillingham is not a theory, as documented by NIH and other respected researchers, OG instruction is a specific methodology that literally changes the brain in observable and measurable ways. Calling it a theory will be used to consider it one option, as opposed to the most effective way to teach reading to dyslexics.

    Thanks for an excellent article, I’ve posted it to our FB page, KeyToReading.com NEWSPAGE.

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  3. This article has a lot of good information, but not all of the training websites listed lead to a “real” certification. If an educator is going to invest in Orton-Gillingham training, it would be a good idea to find a program that is accredited to ensure that the training meets the highest standards. Recently the International Dyslexia Association endorsed all IMSLEC (www.imslec.org) accredited programs as meeting the highest standards of teaching reading, as well as, including all the elements of a quality Orton-Gillingham based program. Although not all teachers may be looking to become “certified” in O-G, if they choose an IMSLEC program (International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council) at least they can be assured that the program has been reviewed and meets the highest standards. It would be a shame for someone to pay for and take a 30 hour course only to find out that if they want to be certified they must re-take the training through another organization.

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    • Stephanie: That is exactly my point. There is not only one place or person that can certify individuals in the O-G approach. It is erroneous to tell people that have to have an affiliation from a certain organization to use and implement the approach. The fact of the matter is that IMSLEC has made it almost impossible for some organizations to become accredited by them because of an alternate training format from what they are used to. They do not have exclusive rights to determine who is certified and who is not.

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      • To say that it is erroneous to recommend an affiliation with certain organizations can be very misleading. For example, Ohio recently adopted legislation (HB 555) to require teachers working with struggling readers, third grade and above, to have a post graduate reading endorsement. For the next year, the Ohio Dept. of Education will also approve specialty certifications from IMSLEC accredited programs, the Academy of Orton-Gillingham, ALTA, and the Wilson program. Does this mean that other programs don’t provide quality instruction – no. My point was that any organization can “certify” you in their own program, but not all certifications are recognized or approved by certain states, districts, or organizations. This is very important to consider when possibly spending hundreds of dollars on training. You mentioned the Orton Academy and Wilson in your article and it’s important that educators are aware of IMSLEC as well, especially since the International Dyslexia Association recently reviewed their accreditation process and declared it meets their high standards.

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        • Hi,we have a full curriculum of lesson plans that are Orton Based,they last an hour and were developed in a reading clinic.

          Sadly,the comment on IMSLEC in my view is correct.
          It`s an insider`s club with lots and lots of politics.
          Even a mention of a program in N.Y. that differs from one that provides the chapter with lots of sponsorship is discouraged…very political!

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  4. I am so glad that I found this article. I am almost finished with my Masters in Education with a Reading Endorsement and I have been trying (for weeks) to find out who the “real” Orton-Gillingham company is! The information on the internet is very confusing if you are new to the approach. I am glad to know that I don’t have to be “certified” by one particular company/group and have several opportunities to be “trained.” Thanks for the information!

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  5. I’m an Orton-Gillingham tutor and I believe that most people can treat dyslexia as long as they have the right tools. Expensive training is not needed. If you are patient, able to read well, are a decent communicator, and have the same accent as your student, you can do it. It’s just teaching reading step by step (not rocket science).
    Before you spend boat loads of money, check out the reading programs at http://www.yourkidcanread.com.

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  6. Hi Kelli,

    Ever since I took my training with you and Tracy at Dyslexia Training Institute, I have been hooked. It has made a huge impact on the students I tutor. Thank you for sharing this information. Do you think a time will ever come when an online Master of Education Degree in O-G or reading/writing difficulties will be offered? I’d be the first to take it. Looking forward to taking your Dyslexia Advocate Certification.

    Best wishes,


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  7. I have a question that perhaps someone here could help me with. My district has asked me to become Wilson certified. I understand there is a three day inservice, online courses and then a practicum. Can you tell me more about the online courses? Are they video based? Do you have to submit work/papers? How intensive is it? Is it like being in grad school all over again (lol)? I read online that it is 90 hours…is that true? I am already piloting two programs and am on several committees. I am wondering if it is a lot of additional work and if I should take this opportunity. I am not concerned about the practicum as I will complete that next year once I am done with the pilots, etc, however my concern is mainly the course work that I would have to take this school year. Any input for me?

    Thank you in advance for any info you can provide.


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  8. Just wanted to add our company.

    We train teachers and standardize whole departments,with our curriculum.
    All the science is applied in the explicit systematic 85 lesson plan curriculum.It creates a powerful school division of like minded trained teachers.

    We train in Canada and the U.S.

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  9. Website is http://www.remediationplus.com

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Orton-Gillingham: Who, Where and Why?

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