Teacher education programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels are designed to foster learning based on how most students process information. Dyslexic students, however, process information differently. A student who is highly intelligent and also dyslexic can fall behind because traditional teaching approaches don't trigger her unique learning processes. For teachers who want to reach dyslexic students, specialized training and certification can prove that you know how to help these students achieve their full learning potential.
The Orton-Gillingham Approach
The Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching dyslexic students is based on best practices and scientific research, and addresses the learning needs of each student. The approach is recognized nationally for its effectiveness, but not all certification programs that teach the approach are recognized by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. Look for a program that is accredited directly by the academy. Teachers who complete a training program at an accredited school become accepted as members of the academy and are awarded with certification that attests to that fact.
The Michigan Dyslexic Institute
The Michigan Dyslexic Institute provides an example of a school accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. To qualify for academy membership with certification at the associate level, teachers must complete a 60-hour seminar and undergo observation by an academy Fellow for 30 hours in a classroom, and during a one-on-one session with a single student. The observation validates the teacher's ability to apply the approach according to academy expectations.
Fairleigh Dickenson University
Fairleigh Dickenson University offers an example of a certification program that focuses on the Orton-Gillingham approach but is not accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. FDU is instead accredited by the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council. FDU is also recognized by the International Dyslexia Association for meeting standards in teacher training. FDU's program includes 30 college credit hours. Students who complete the program are awarded a certificate as a dyslexia specialist.
Mount St. Joseph University
The Dyslexia Certificate program at Mount St. Joseph University is also recognized by the International Dyslexia Association. Teachers can qualify for the program if they already hold bachelor's degrees in education, speech pathology, psychology or similar fields. To earn the dyslexia certificate, teachers must complete 21 semester hours of coursework, participate in field work, and pass a state exam for the Ohio Assessment of Education. This program also serves as the foundation for a master of arts degree in reading science. Only 13 additional credit hours qualify participants for a graduate degree.