Current State of the Evidence: Examining the Effects of Orton-Gillingham Reading Interventions for Students With or at Risk for Word-Level Reading Disabilities

Stevens, E. A., Austin, C., Moore, C., Scammacca, N., Boucher, A. N., & Vaughn, S. (2021). Current State of the Evidence: Examining the Effects of Orton-Gillingham Reading Interventions for Students With or at Risk for Word-Level Reading Disabilities. Exceptional Children, 87(4), 397–417. https://doi.org/10.1177/0014402921993406

Over the past decade, parent advocacy groups led a grassroots movement resulting in most states adopting dyslexia-specific legislation, with many states mandating the use of the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach to reading instruction. Orton-Gillingham is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive approach to reading for students with or at risk for word-level reading disabilities (WLRD). Evidence from a prior synthesis and What Works Clearinghouse reports yielded findings lacking support for the effectiveness of OG interventions. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine the effects of Orton-Gillingham reading interventions on the reading outcomes of students with or at risk for WLRD. Findings suggested OG reading interventions do not statistically significantly improve foundational skill outcomes (i.e., phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, spelling), although the mean effect size was positive in favor of OG-based approaches. Similarly, there were not significant differences for vocabulary and comprehension outcomes for students with or at risk for WLRD. More high-quality, rigorous research with larger samples of students with WLRD is needed to fully understand the effects of OG interventions on the reading outcomes for this population.

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