Orton Gillingham IEP Goals – Approach, IEP Goals List, Tools and Challenges

Last Updated on October 5, 2022 by Editorial Team

The term Dyslexia is not some recently found disorder. Rudolf Berlin, a professor and eye specialist in a German city, introduced the term Dyslexia in 1896 to name the neurological impairment that interfered with children’s reading abilities. Several educators, researchers, and teaching specialists have been working in this field to find a solution to help children and adults suffering from this disorder. One such notable contributor duo is Orton Gillingham. In this post, we will outline briefly Orton Gillingham IEP goals as a part of our IEP goals series.

What is Orton Gillingham’s approach?

It is quite evident that understanding or sounding out words by reading, per se, is not going to be an easy thing to do for a dyslexic child or person. Orton Gillingham came up with the idea of introducing a multisensory approach to help children connect the letters with their sounds. The approach has the following characteristics:

  • A one-on-one teacher-student interaction model
  • Use of gestures, touch, or other alternative senses to absorb the meaning of the written text
  • Use of manipulatives to teach spelling, and thought retention.

The overall outcome of this approach is the development of a better quality phonological awareness in kids which helps them learn and retain language skills right from an early age.

Writing IEP goals for teaching kids phonics and reading based on Orton Gillingham Approach

In a typical Orton Gillingham session, the kids are given strategic and hierarchical learning support (Clark et al, 1995) to help them:

  • Achieve fluency in breaking words into vowels, consonants, and suffixes.
  • Gain ease with a new sound or spelling rule by the application of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic supports.
  • Learn to make nonsense words, too; the idea is to learn how to identify rhyming sounds
  • Learn sight words that don’t fit in under any phonemic rule. The gestures chosen for this may include finger tracing or sliding, and arm tapping.
  • Finally read words, sentences and decode text. It is followed by the development of semantics and vocabulary build-up so that kids can move to develop writing skills.

Hence, IEP goals covering Orton Gillingham’s approach of developing reading skills cover activities that help kids overcome language learning difficulties.

IEP goals as extracted from Oregon K-12 Literacy Framework and based on the O-G approach

An important point worth remembering is that the O-G method follows a bottom-up approach for developing reading skills in children. Hence, following this point, IEP can be defined as “a child will show 80% proficiency in a chosen period in exhibiting skills that cover reading activities”, such as:

  • Phonemic awareness building: Identify and produce verbally 18 correct segments in a word per minute by the winter assessment period
  • Phonics: Read CVC non-sensical or pseudowords like Lop, Sop, Wop, Bop, at the rate of 25 correct phonemic segments per minute by spring assessment
  • Reading fluency: The child is given time till Grade 2. By this time, the child should be able to read 44 correct reads per minute. By Grade 6, the word list populates to 160 correct words per minute, and by Grade 9, 190 correct words per minute will comprise the IEP goal.
  • Vocabulary Building: Following the bottom-up approach as suggested in O-G, the teachers set the benchmark for vocabulary building too. IEP goals for this has a few sub-parts, such as:
    • The child should identify the known words using phonics knowledge with 80% accuracy.
    • The child should infer the meaning of an unknown word by using phonics knowledge
    • The child should be able to read and write 20, 40, 60 words in a given period as set in the IEP goals meeting, according to their individual study level. The limit is decided based on the prognosis of the learning difficulty level the child is struggling with.
  • Reading comprehension: In the O-G approach, phonological awareness is developed to enable kids to help kids read with clarity and prosody. The IEP goals pertaining to reading comprehension are:
    • Develop ease with reading: The child will acquire a pleasant pace of reading words and predict the meaning too comfortably by the end of a target period. It will start with reading sentences correctly first. Say, the child will read 5 sentences clearly and will explain their meaning by grade 3. The number increases to 10, 20, and so on with an increase in the study level.
    • Read passages and explain them: The child will read different passages and explain clearly the underlying messages by the end of a chosen period.
    • Answer questions: The child should be able to answer questions based on the facts given in passage or story.

We will explain reading comprehension goals more elaborately in our coming post. Keep watching the space!

Tools employed to achieve IEP goals based on the O-G approach

The teachers employ direct, one-to-one, and multisensory ways which are actually nothing but the use of alternative methods of teaching. Many of the reading manipulatives that we have discussed in our previous posts are applicable to the OG approach. Still, to sum up, you can expect teachers to use tools like:

  • Phonograms
  • FlashCards
  • Sight words games
  • Diagraph wheels
  • Spelling Boxes,
  • Blending boards, etc.

Challenges Ahead

Though the approach may look quite student-friendly, teachers don’t easily allow all students to become a part of this learning method. There is an intricate assessment process using which teachers determine if the approach is too complicated for the learners. Some legal cases as mentioned in the study[1] show that the efficacy of this reading methodology has come under scanner many times. Parents have raised brows over:

  • Selection criteria for taking the child in for O-G IEP
  • Relevance of gestures or multisensory approach in building reading skills – they opine it may be too complicated to handle and absorb for the child
  • Lack of teaching support or schools’ interest in giving additional facilities required for O-G approach based sessions

Summing up,

IEP goals setting helps using Orton Gillingham’s approach in a systematic way for teaching reading skills to children. The only thing, as a parent or teacher, you need to understand if the approach is suitable for the child or not. Before joining the bandwagon, take a pause, assess, analyze, and then decide if you need to insist upon this approach or not.


[1] Orton-Gillingham Methodology for Students with Reading Disabilities, by Tessie, Perrie, submitted in The Journal of Special Education, 2007

Leave a Comment