Unlike in many professions, there isn’t an industry-wide curriculum with a cumulative exam that officially “certifies” someone in Orton Gillingham. Training programs vary tremendously and there are significant differences in the results. A struggling reader’s progress is all about the teacher. Training and experience are paramount.
What is a "Reading Specialist"?
At Orton Gillingham Reading Specialists, a Reading Specialist is a highly-trained Orton-Gillingham instructor with extensive experience with a wide variety of students. At OGRS we only hire Reading Specialists who have been personally trained by Karen Sonday, owner of OGRS, author, and Fellow of Orton Gillingham Academy, and have completed their practicums through OGRS.
What is a "ReSIT"?
At Orton Gillingham Reading Specialists, a ReSIT is a Reading-Specialist-in-Training. These educators are completing their Orton Gillingham training at OGRS and are working on their practicum hours toward certification by teaching students, supervised by owner and founder Karen Sonday, Fellow of Orton Gillingham Academy. (formerly AOGPE)
What sort of training should a qualified practitioner have?
It’s critical that a teacher's training includes not just theory and coursework, but practice working with students under the direct supervision of a highly qualified trainer.
There are many excellent training programs available. Ours is one. If the program is led by a Fellow of Orton Gillingham Academy (formerly AOGPE) or is accredited by The International Multi-sensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC), it has been through a rigorous evaluation process and must adhere to high standards to maintain its accreditation. It will require trainees to have a certain number of coursework and practicum hours and that course instructors be highly qualified.
How much experience is recommended?
When evaluating a potential practitioner, look for the following:
- Extensive practice both supervised and unsupervised. Look for someone with a minimum of 150 supervised practice hours and at least 500 unsupervised hours specifically using the OG approach, not a program that uses pieces of OG.
- Experience with students from a broad range of ages and skills.
- Do they have a mentor? Do they have a group of colleagues that they go to with questions? Are they connected to a community of OG professionals?
- Is anyone holding them accountable for the quality of the service they provide?
- Do they receive ongoing professional development, such as attending conferences, workshops, and lectures that give them further training in strategies, language structure, best practices and current research?
Should they have a college degree?
Not necessarily. Most colleges and universities do not give pre-service teachers the background and training they need in structured literacy and phonics. Even if a teacher has a master’s or doctoral degree in reading, it doesn’t mean they understand the structure of the English language and how to teach it to students in an effective manner. There are many excellent OG practitioners who have a degree that doesn’t relate to education at all. What’s critical is that a teacher have training from a recognized program whether it’s through a college or university or not.