What do you suggest using to support the argument to a school that a dyslexic student needs an Orton-Gillingham based program as part of their IEP? What research or information shows that Orton-Gillingham is the best approach for dyslexia?
For any IEP, it is critical to ensure that all decisions about instructional services are based on the individual student’s data and needs. First, the team should review the data from the evaluation, observation and classroom performance, including any data regarding the student’s response to instruction and interventions. The most effective way to prepare an IEP is through this type of comprehensive review of a student's needs - understanding what has been tried that hasn't worked, and what instructional approaches should be tried based on the student's presenting concerns. There should be a clear connection – and hypothesis – regarding the student’s presenting concerns and the recommended instructional programming.
Orton-Gillingham approaches are research-based, not evidence-based. This is an important distinction. Evidence based programs means that there have been studies (typically a randomized-controlled trial) that report on the program’s effectiveness for the target population compared to another instructional approach. To my knowledge, there are no studies that provide evidence for Orton-Gillingham approaches’ effectiveness relative to another type of instructional intervention.
Research based programs are those that have been developed by drawing on the existing research base. In the case of Orton-Gillingham methods, Orton-Gillingham approaches are informed by the research suggesting multi-sensory approaches are effective means of supporting students with dyslexia.
What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report (July 2010). Orton-Gillingham-based strategies. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, What Works Clearinghouse. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Intervention/737
Evelyn Johnson is a Professor of Special Education at Boise State University and the Scientific Director of Lee Pesky Learning Center in Boise, Idaho.