Success Stories: Orton-Gillingham
Transforms Reading Abilities

Reading is not just a fundamental skill; it’s a gateway to knowledge, imagination, and success. However, for some individuals, reading can be a challenging and frustrating experience. Fortunately, evidence-based teaching methods and interventions like the Orton-Gillingham approach have been transforming reading abilities for decades.

Transforming Reading Abilities with Orton-Gillingham

The Orton-Gillingham approach is a structured, multisensory method used to teach reading. Originally designed to help individuals, particularly those with dyslexia and other reading challenges, improve their reading, spelling, and writing skills, it is now shown to benefit all students across all Tiers of instruction. 

Orton-Gillingham is an explicit, systematic, sequential, and cumulative approach that utilizes multi-sensory techniques to help students process and retain information more effectively.

With the Orton-Gillingham approach, students are able to learn cognitively and become more confident in their reading, writing, and language skills. As they develop these essential skills, they begin to believe in their own abilities and are more willing to engage with text. As students become more confident, educators will often see:

  • Improved reading fluency
  • Enhanced reading comprehension
  • Spelling and writing proficiency

The Orton-Gillingham approach enables reading to be an accessible skill for individuals who previously struggled. Its systematic, multisensory, and individualized approach helps students build the strong foundation they need to become confident, proficient readers and writers. With Orton-Gillingham, reading difficulties need not be a barrier to success; instead, they become stepping stones to brighter futures filled with literacy and knowledge.

Orton-Gillingham Success Stories

Be sure to check out some recent success stories where schools embraced the Orton-Gillingham approach through IMSE Impact Structured Literacy Professional Development.

Albuquerque’s Mountain Mahogany Community School Boosts Reading Proficiency Rates by 25% with IMSE

In 2022, Mountain Mahogany’s New Mexico state assessment scores in ELA revealed that 50% of students were proficient in reading, a 25pp improvement from 4 years prior when the school began implementing the IMSE Orton-Gillingham approach.

Read their story >>

Grand Rapids, MN District 318 Sees Literacy Transformation With Science of Reading

Many educators in ISD 328 had originally believed the Orton-Gillingham methodology to be a resource effective only for dyslexic students. However, they now embrace the approach and credit it as the main reason behind the incredible improvements and success they are seeing across all tiers of their students.

Read their story >>

Learning Acceleration, Not Learning Loss

The Hoboken Public School District is a leading example of how to combat the learning loss caused by the pandemic. By prioritizing literacy education and implementing the IMSE Orton-Gillingham approach, the Hoboken school district is training its teachers to provide explicit instruction that helps every student read at grade level.

Read their story >>

Idaho West Ada First-Grade Teacher Taps PTA to Train in Orton-Gillingham

Jolynn Aldinger’s initial impression of Orton-Gillingham was that it is an approach used for intervention groups. However, after receiving a grant from her PTA to take IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham training, she was able to unlock the power of Orton-Gillingham reading instruction in her general education classroom.

Read her story >>

Orton-Gillingham’s Impact on Self-Esteem Part 4 of Empowering Dyslexic Learners

As we have learned in this blog series, the journey of a student with dyslexia can be challenging. Dyslexia is not just a matter of struggling with reading and writing; it often affects a student’s self-esteem and emotional well-being. When students with dyslexia face challenges, they may feel like they’re falling behind their peers, leading to feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and even shame. These emotional struggles can have a lasting impact on their self-esteem and overall confidence. However, there is hope on the horizon.

The Orton-Gillingham approach, a research-based, structured, and multisensory method for teaching students with dyslexia, can profoundly impact the self-esteem of these learners. 

Orton-Gillingham tailors instruction to each student’s specific needs, and by progressing at their own pace, students can master each skill before moving on. The approach also engages multiple senses, allowing students to see, hear, and touch the words they are learning. This multisensory experience creates a strong foundation and enhances memory, boosting their self-assurance.

Educators trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach create a nurturing and patient atmosphere. This support encourages students to take risks, try new strategies, and build self-esteem. Educators and students can celebrate the small victories and achievements together to instill a sense of accomplishment and confidence. 

Students with dyslexia are not defined by their learning differences; they are unique individuals with immense potential. The Orton-Gillingham approach acknowledges this potential and equips students with the skills and confidence they need to succeed. 

Educators should be prepared to equip students with dyslexia with the tools and strategies they need to build self-esteem, face challenges with resilience, and reach their full potential. With the Orton-Gillingham approach, their journey transforms from one of frustration to one of empowerment and confidence.

Be sure to check out the rest of the series released this Dyslexia Awareness Month:

Supporting Students with Dyslexia Using the Orton-Gillingham Approach Part 3 of Empowering Dyslexic Learners

For students with dyslexia, learning to read can be an uphill battle. Still, with the proper support and strategies, they can overcome these challenges and build the self-confidence necessary for achieving success in the classroom.

The Orton-Gillingham approach is an evidence-based and highly individualized method for teaching students with dyslexia. Named after its pioneers, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Samuel T. Orton and educator Anna Gillingham, this approach has a proven track record in helping dyslexic students progress toward skilled reading and writing. It is based on the idea that individuals with dyslexia benefit from a structured, sequential, and multisensory teaching approach.

Key Principles of the Orton-Gillingham Approach

Structured and Sequential

The Orton-Gillingham approach breaks down reading and writing skills into small, sequential steps. Students progress through these steps at their own pace, ensuring they have a strong foundation before moving on.

Multisensory Instruction

This approach simultaneously engages multiple senses (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). Students touch, see, hear, and speak the sounds they are learning, creating strong neural connections.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is an essential component of skilled reading. Students learn to identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in words.

Systematic Phonics

This approach teaches the relationships between sounds and letters systematically. It begins with basic letter-sound associations and gradually introduces more complex phonics patterns.

Decoding Practice

Students with dyslexia often struggle with decoding words. The Orton-Gillingham approach provides ample practice, using decodable texts that reinforce phonics patterns.

Sight Words

While emphasizing phonics, it also includes sight words that do not follow regular phonetic patterns but are learned by orthographic mapping.

Empowering Educators with Orton-Gillingham

Educators play a pivotal role in supporting students with dyslexia. By incorporating the Orton-Gillingham approach, they can create an inclusive learning environment that is beneficial to all students and necessary for some. Critical strategies for educators include:

  • Professional Training: Educators can undergo training in the Orton-Gillingham approach to gain the expertise needed to effectively support students with dyslexia.
  • Individualized Instruction: Tailoring instruction to meet each student’s unique needs is essential. Students with dyslexia benefit from one-on-one or small-group instruction.
  • Decodable Texts: Providing students with decodable texts that match their skill level allows for practice and reinforcement of previously taught phonetic patterns.
  • Assistive Technology: Incorporating assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software and speech recognition tools, can be a game-changer for dyslexic students.

Supporting students with dyslexia using the Orton-Gillingham approach will empower them to embrace their full potential by becoming more capable readers and writers. Through a learning environment that is structured, multisensory, and individualized, educators can encourage students with dyslexia to face their academic challenges and strive to become the best students they can be.

Be sure to check back for the rest of the series to be released this Dyslexia Awareness Month:

Diagnosing and Identifying Dyslexia Part 2 of Empowering Dyslexic Learners

Dyslexia, a complex and often misunderstood learning difference, affects millions of individuals worldwide. Recognizing its signs and symptoms and understanding the crucial process of diagnosis is a vital step toward providing support and empowerment for dyslexic learners. 

While educators and parents can recognize early signs, a formal diagnosis requires the expertise of professionals such as educational psychologists, neuropsychologists, and speech-language pathologists. Their specialized knowledge and assessment tools are crucial in accurately identifying dyslexia and differentiating it from other learning difficulties. A professional evaluation involves interviews, standardized tests, and observations to comprehensively assess an individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses in reading and language processing.

The Dyslexia Diagnostic Process

A formal dyslexia diagnosis is not a one-size-fits-all process. It involves multiple components, including:


Incorporating interviews into the diagnosis process allows professionals to collect developmental and educational histories with the individual and their parents. This can include milestones such as speech and language acquisition, the age at which the child began to talk, and other developmental markers. Understanding a child’s early developmental journey helps professionals assess whether there were any early indicators of dyslexia, such as delayed language development or difficulty in learning the alphabet.

Professionals may also explore family history during interviews. This can help uncover any potential genetic links to dyslexia, as it tends to run in families.

Standardized Tests

Standardized tests are a cornerstone of the dyslexia diagnosis process, offering objective and quantifiable data about an individual’s reading and language skills. These may include phonological awareness, word recognition, reading fluency, and reading comprehension measures. These standardized tests dive deeper into diagnosis by:

  • Using objective assessments
  • Measuring essential components (phonological awareness, phonics, comprehension, etc.)
  • Comparing performance
  • Gauging severity
  • Tracking progress
  • Ensuring consistency


By conducting observations in structured and natural settings, professionals understand how dyslexia affects an individual’s daily life. When combined with interviews and standardized test results, these insights contribute to a more accurate diagnosis. Observations also offer valuable information for tailoring strategies and interventions, as they provide a firsthand look at the challenges and coping mechanisms of the individual. In the context of dyslexia diagnosis, observations are instrumental in painting a holistic picture of how dyslexia impacts an individual’s reading and language behaviors, guiding support and intervention decisions.

Early diagnosis allows for timely interventions tailored to the individual’s specific needs. The sooner dyslexia is identified, the sooner strategies and support can be implemented to mitigate potential emotional distress and academic challenges. Recognizing early indicators and acting upon them is essential to fostering an inclusive educational environment where all learners can thrive.

By understanding the complexity of dyslexia and the role of professionals in the diagnostic process, we can create environments where every learner’s unique abilities are celebrated and nurtured. Stay tuned for more insights and strategies as we explore the path to Empowering Dyslexic Learners this Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Be sure to check back for the rest of the series to be released this Dyslexia Awareness Month:

Empowering Dyslexic Learners: Understanding Dyslexia Part 1 of 4

Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects 20% of individuals worldwide. It’s a term we often hear, but what does it mean? Understanding dyslexia is the first step toward empowering dyslexic learners to reach their full potential. 

Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental condition that primarily affects an individual’s reading, writing, and spelling ability. It’s not a result of a lack of intelligence, effort, or vision problem. Instead, dyslexia stems from differences in the brain’s language processing, particularly in phonological awareness, decoding, and fluency. These challenges can lead to difficulties in accurately and quickly recognizing words, which, in turn, affect reading comprehension.

Understanding Dyslexia

In a typical classroom, there are likely to be several students facing dyslexia-related challenges. Despite its prevalence, dyslexia often remains undiagnosed or misunderstood, indicating the need for increased awareness and support.

Far from a one-size-fits-all condition, dyslexia presents many profiles and presentations. These variations stem from the complex interplay of genetics, brain structure, and environmental factors. Dyslexic individuals may exhibit a spectrum of challenges, making each case unique. Some may need help with decoding words, experiencing difficulty in accurately and fluently translating written symbols into speech. Others might face comprehension issues, where they can read but struggle to understand or remember what they’ve read. 

The severity of dyslexia can range widely, from mild to profound. This diversity underscores the need for personalized assessments and interventions. Recognizing the variability in dyslexic profiles enables educators, parents, and specialists to provide tailored support that addresses the specific needs of each individual.

Common warning signs of dyslexia in young learners include:

  • Delayed language development
  • Difficulty in learning the alphabet
  • Struggling to rhyme words
  • Challenging to follow multi-step directions
  • Slow progress in acquiring early reading and writing skills
  • Reversing letters or numbers, such as confusing ‘b’ and ‘d’
  • Frequent spelling mistakes
  • Slow, choppy reading
  • Guessing after repeated exposure to letters or words
  • Poor comprehension

Recognizing the signs of dyslexia, especially in its early stages, is paramount for timely intervention. Early indicators may appear as early as preschool or kindergarten, and identifying them enables educators and parents to provide crucial support. By recognizing these indicators and addressing them proactively, we can empower dyslexic learners to overcome obstacles and build the foundational skills needed for academic success and a positive self-concept.

Be sure to check back for the rest of the series to be released this Dyslexia Awareness Month: