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Doing Your Homework:
How Can I Get a Trained, Certified Reading Teacher?

by Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

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My daughter is eight-years old and in third grade. Because she has dyslexia, she is having great difficulty learning to read and write. The neuropsychologist who evaluated her said she needs to be taught by a certified Wilson or Orton-Gillingham trained instructor.

Her second grade special ed teacher said she was using the Wilson reading method. Later, I learned that the teacher was not trained in the Wilson program.

This year, the school says her special education teacher is “highly qualified” because she has 10 years of teaching experience. This teacher is not certified in the Wilson reading program either.

I want my daughter to receive instruction from a certified, trained instructor who can bring her up to grade level. What can I do?

From Sue

Trying to get by as a reading teacher without appropriate training makes as much sense as buying sheet music to become an opera singer. A teacher can't use the Wilson Method, the Lindamood Bell Method, or any other method, unless she has the required training.

If the teachers were well-trained, and if they were providing an appropriate level of remediation, your daughter would be learning to read, write and spell by now. If anyone on the IEP team was a neuropsychologist, they might be qualified to refute the neuropsychologist's report.

Enough time has gone by to show that the "remediation" provided by the school is not working.

Find a Qualified Tutor

While you are formulating a plan, you need to find a qualified tutor to teach your daughter to read. She does not have any more time to wait for the school to catch up.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) can help you find a tutor who will follow the your evaluator's recommendations and teach your daughter to read.
If your state branch of the International Dyslexia Association does not list tutors on their website, call or email them for a list of tutors near you.

You can also go to the contact information page for the International Dyslexia Association. Choose the "Information and Referral" box, then ask for a list of service providers in your state. If you are near a state line, ask for service providers in your neighboring states.

You may also find a tutor here:

Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities Look for tutors in your state.

Begin a Program of Self-Study

You need to learn about the law, your child's disability, how your child learns, and how your child needs to be taught. Where do you begin?

You need to learn about instructional methods and strategies that are used to teach dyslexic children to read. You will find articles about reading and appropriate reading instruction at Reading at Wrightslaw.

Join the International Dyslexia Association and the Learning Disabilities Association of America for one year. Immerse yourself in information about your child's disability, educational remediation techniques, legal rights and responsibilities, and advocacy strategies.

Consult with an Attorney

I suggest that you consult with an attorney, not because you want to request a due process hearing at this stage, but because an attorney can help you develop a game plan. Read How to Find an Educational Consultant, Advocate, Attorney. Do not mention the attorney to the school.

If you do consult with an attorney, remember that you will need to work with school personnel for many years. Do not burn your bridges. Be polite to the IEP team members. You need to build and maintain good relationships with school personnel that will not hurt future negotiations.

Directories of Attorneys who Represent Parents

Education-a-Must
National Disability Rights Network
Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates COPAA

Join a Support or Study Group

Get help from other parents. Look for a support or study group in your community. Read Strategies to Find a Parent Group. Other parents can provide information, recommend experts, offer support, and alleviate that sinking feeling that you are fighting this battle alone.

Learn Advocacy Skills

Try to attend a Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training program. We receive dozens of letters and emails from parents who attended one of these programs, learned how to design and implement a plan, and were able to get the services their child needed while maintaining a healthy working relationship with school staff.

Advocating for Your Child - Getting Started. Good special education services are intensive and expensive. Resources are limited. If you have a child with special needs, you may wind up battling the school district for the services your child needs. To prevail, you need information, skills, and tools.

Effective Advocacy: Documents, Records and Paper Trails
. Good records are essential to effective advocacy.
Keep a record of your contacts with the school. Use low-tech tools: calendars, logs, journals. Keep a log of telephone calls and meetings, conversations, and correspondence between you and the school.

More articles about effective advocacy


Meet Sue Whitney

Sue Whitney of Merrimack, New Hampshire, is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that is published by Harbor House Law Press.

In Doing Your Homework, she writes about reading, research based instruction, No Child Left Behind, and creative strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools. Her articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys. Sue Whitney's bio.

Sue has served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC) and has been a volunteer educational surrogate parent. She currently works with families as a special education advocate.


Copyright © 2002-2014 by Suzanne Whitney.

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