What is a "certified" OG instructor?
Unlike in many professions, there isn’t an industry-wide curriculum with a cumulative exam that officially “certifies” someone in OG. 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. Fortunately, there are a number of internationally recognized organizations that accredit training programs and certify individuals. They are described below.
What is a "Staff Specialist"?
At OG Reading Specialists, a Staff Specialist is a highly-trained instructor with extensive experience with a wide variety of students.
What is a "Reading Specialist-in-Training"?
Specialist-in-Training is a supervised practitioner who has completed some OG Training and is completing the required practicum hours.
What sort of training should a qualified practitioner have?
It’s critical that a teacher's training include 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. If the program is led by a Fellow of The Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (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 at the following:
- Extensive practice both supervised and unsupervised. Look for someone with a minimum of 100 supervised practice hours and at least 500 unsupervised hours specifically using the OG approach, not a program that uses pieces of OG. If you’re paying top dollar, you should expect that they’ve had many thousands of hours with students. It’s fine to work with someone who was recently trained, but you should know this at the outset and their fee should reflect this.
- Experience with students from a broad range of ages and skills.
- Specific training and experience with pre-reading skills and high level language 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. 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. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) provides a list of undergraduate and graduate programs that have met industry standards. All of the credentialing organizations listed here require applicants to have a BA.
What about other credentials?
The following are recognized OG credentialing organizations. All require an extensive evaluation of the training program or the applicant’s background, experience and skills and all have high expectations for members to remain in good standing.
- Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE)
- F/AOGPE (Fellow)
- FIT/AOGPE (Fellow in Training)
- C/AOGPE (Certified)
- A/AOGPE (Associate)
- OGCE (Classroom Educator)
- Academic Language Therapists Association (ALTA)
- QI (Qualified Instructor of Certified Academic Language Therapists)
- ICALP (Instructor of Certified Academic Language Practitioners)
- CALT (Certified Academic Language Therapist)
- CALP (Certified Academic Language Practitioner)
- International Dyslexia Association (IDA)
- Structured Literacy/Dyslexia Interventionist
- Structured Literacy/Dyslexia Specialist
What if they don’t have one of these credentials?
That doesn’t mean they aren’t a highly qualified OG practitioner. It could mean they don’t have a bachelor’s degree and therefore are not eligible under the current requirements, or they haven’t undertaken the lengthy process of submitting an application, or are in the process of working with one of the committees to have their application accepted. The main things to look for are who trained them, how much experience they have and whether they’re actively working at developing their skills.