How One District Is Preparing Educators with an Accredited Dyslexia Training Course
Yes, it is possible to provide in-district Multisensory Structured Language Education/Orton Gillingham-based training to educational professionals in a large, suburban school district. Here is the story of one of those districts.
The Pickerington Local School District (PLSD) is located east of Columbus, Ohio. Approximately 700 teachers are responsible for providing educational services to the nearly 11,000 students in the district’s 14 buildings. PLSD is committed to providing its community with evidence-based instructional practices provided by highly trained instructors. 46 current and former staff members have completed a year-long, in-district, rigorous, IMSLEC (International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council) accredited training course in the Orton-Gillingham approach.
38 of the 46 trained educators are still employed by the district. Eight of the 46 have ventured to other districts that are now reaping the benefits of their extensive training. Seven teachers are in the current 2019-2020 Orton-Gillingham cohort. 24 of those that have been trained in the Pickerington Local School District made the decision to sit for the Alliance National exam and become members of ALTA.
Pickerington Teacher and ALTA member, Toni Davis, shared, “Being a member of ALTA validates that the training I received was of the highest quality, provides me with a nationally recognized credential and enables me to network with like-minded individuals. The resources and professional development opportunities provided by the organization enable me to continue to grow as a teacher.”
Each year in Columbus, teachers are invited to participate in the cohort that is offered, at district expense by an in-district trainer in conjunction with the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Columbus. Participation is voluntary and open to all staff members. 16 of the 46 who have been trained over the past six years are general education teachers. The remaining are intervention specialists.
What Is Involved in the Training?
After expressing interest in the training, each candidate is required to attend a one-on-one information session that includes a thorough overview of the training. This process ensures all future trainees are aware of the requirements and rigorous standards prior to committing. The training includes 60 lecture hours. The first 30 lecture hours are provided before school starts, during the last week of July. The remaining 30 are provided over five school days throughout the school year. Several assigned readings and written summaries are also part of the training.
During the course of the year, participants are required to take part in a supervised practicum. The practicum consists of 100 lessons. The in-district Instructor of Certified Academic Language Practitioners (ICALP) works closely with educators to support the practicum by previewing, modeling, observing, and providing feedback on lessons. The trainer is also available for additional support and information as needed.
What Are the Results?
The feedback regarding the training has been phenomenal. Many teachers have questioned why they were not taught the content in their pre-service teacher training; many compare it to a second Master’s program due to the rigor. ALTA member, Chelsea Brown, shared, “OG has made me confident in my ability to teach my students to read and know the science behind reading. I have never felt more confident in teaching reading based on all I have learned and what my students have shown me they are able to do.”
Most importantly, student growth in the area of reading has been exceptional. General education teachers and intervention specialists both have noted excellent improvements in student achievement after MSLE-OG based services. When asked about her training, Katie Mullet, CALP, shared, “I have seen more kids learn and progress through (reading) skills in these past couple years than the whole decade I taught before.”