Dyslexia: Reading Program Basics


My third-grade daughter exhibits many characteristics of dyslexia and is about two grade levels behind due to problems with written and oral expression and reading fluency. She just started a new reading program called iREADY, and I’m not sure it is appropriate for her. If she has dyslexia, can she truly make gains in reading without a MSL/OG (Multisensory Structured Language/Orton Gillingham) program? 


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Margie Gillis, Ed.D

Margie Gillis is the President of Literacy How and a Research Affiliate at Haskins Laboratories, which conducts basic research on spoken and written language.

Although I’m not familiar with the iREADY instructional program you reference, I did look at a description of it and the research supporting it. It does not appear to include and teach the elements of language explicitly, systematically, cumulatively, and diagnostically – the hallmarks of what I refer to more broadly as a Structured Literacy approach to reading. Orton Gillingham is considered a Structured Literacy approach that uses multisensory techniques. There are many others as well.

Language-based learning disabilities, including dyslexia, require this type of approach because students who have the difficulties that you describe, can’t figure out the structure of English on their own. English is a difficult language to read, spell, and write and teachers who instruct students who need this approach must be knowledgeable and experienced in delivering this type of instruction. Unfortunately, most teachers do not receive the requisite training, and as a result, their students, including your daughter, fall behind in reading, which impacts their academic achievement.

From what I can tell, iREADY is a blended program that combines direct instruction with practice. The key to its success is to ensure that the teacher who delivers the instruction and oversees its effectiveness, is highly skilled in the methods that I’ve described here.

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