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Dyslexia Law Solutions: Quickly Building Capacity.


As the needs of students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities continue to gain attention, legislative leaders across the country are taking action. But as more and more states pass dyslexia laws, special education directors all across the country are facing a common challenge: How to quickly build a trained workforce capable of delivering a specialized dyslexia intervention program built on proven Orton Gillingham strategies, given the very real limitations of time and money.

“When AB1369 first passed here in California, we were out ahead of it a little bit.” said Robin Gilligan, Director of Student Support Services in Fullerton, California. “When California Common Core came into being in 2010, my RSP teachers were saying there just weren’t a lot of materials available that supported what the kids needed. That’s when I started my quest.”

Initially, Gilligan looked at several options. “The first one we considered was pretty well known, but it seemed like it didn’t lend itself well to the needs of a group.” Said Gilligan. “I wanted to find a curriculum that could be used by all of my RSP teachers in a succinct amount of time, and could be monitored and tracked.”

It was during this time that Gilligan learned about the Sonday System. Developed by nationally renowned Orton Gillingham expert Arlene Sonday, the Sonday System has simplified a complex instructional theory into a streamlined, easy-to-implement approach that empowers teachers to get more students reading sooner — with very little added time or cost for additional training.

“I wanted a program that was truly written by an Orton Gillingham fellow.” Said Gilligan. “And I wanted our teachers to have a full understanding of this approach, to know what multisensory components were, and to see it in practice.”

Gilligan says that in 2016, 22 RSP teachers were trained. “We had an October training session and told them we’d spend the first year figuring it out. We had a refresher course this year, and now it is fully implemented with all of our RSP teachers. Additionally, we added 23 SDC teachers this year and by next year they will be fully implemented.”

So far, the results have been very positive. “After the first year, we pulled in our benchmark exams to see how we’re doing.” Said Gilligan. “We have had kids grow significantly. The Sonday System is so aligned with AB1369, and with what our kids need.”

More information about the Sonday System, its Orton Gillingham lesson plans, its cost-effective teacher training requirements and its simple, multisensory reading intervention strategies for students with dyslexia can be found at