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The Koala Literacy Dictionary by Caitlin Herckenrath is a guide to the key terms and concepts related to literacy instruction.


Barton Reading & Spelling System is an OG-based program. It is scripted, meaning that teachers are shown exactly what to say and how to say it. Teachers must go through training videos but are not required to come up with lessons themselves. 

To be Barton Certified, candidates must undergo a day-long course with the developer, Susan Barton. Her standards are notably high. Candidates begin with Beginner (Level 1) certification, and can complete subsequent certifications in Intermediate (Level 2) and Master (Level 3). Barton tutors do NOT need to be certified to teach the program.  

Certified (Trained) Teacher 

Commonly known as a teacher trained for the classroom. This means the teacher went to College or University and obtained an official teaching license in their state, province, or district. This does not guarantee any particular type of Literacy training, but indicates that the teacher has earned a general teaching degree as recognized by their local government. 


Orton-Gillingham is an approach and methodology for literacy - there is no one "program" to use. Teachers, Tutors, or Parents using an OG approach have a scope and sequence they use for their students, but it is flexible and prescriptive. This means it can be adapted to suit the needs of the student(s). 

If a tutor is labeling themself as "OG Trained", they require a variation of the following*: 

  1. Some type of Foundations/Multisensory Education Course 
  2. Some type of OG Practitioner/Classroom Teacher/1:1 Course 

If a tutor is labeling themself as "OG Certified", they require the following*: 

  • The above courses, PLUS a supervised practicum & successful application for certification with the governing OG body of that country. 
  • Different countries have different requirements of what trainees have to do to maintain certification and how to "level up" so to speak, but the practicum is a key component for basic certification. 
  • There are very strict requirements for labeling oneself as OG Certified. 

*Note: Different countries and certifying bodies may have different requirements. These are general guidelines. 

Science of Reading 

The Science of Reading (SoR) refers to a large--and growing--body of research on the way the brain learns to read and write. Evidence-based by nature, the Science of Reading incorporates decades of interdisciplinary research, including psychology, neurology, education, and more. For generations, its findings have helped to guide educators and parents towards approaches and programs that are rooted in science, and has more recently played a major role in debunking programs and curricula that do not utilize science-backed tools for teaching literacy. 

Scope and Sequence 

A Scope defines the range of concepts the student(s) will learn. For example, a phonics scope may include concepts ranging from consonant-vowel-consonant words all the way up to multi-syllable spelling patterns. A penmanship scope may include concepts ranging from lowercase letters to uppercase letters and numbers. Scopes outline the spectrum of literacy concepts taught. 

A Sequence dictates the order of concepts taught within the Scope. For example, a phonics sequence may begin with by teaching the letters s a t p i n before moving on to the rest of the alphabet, then digraphs, then blends, etc., in that order. A Sequence takes the Scope and arranges them in a progressive order. 

There is no one scope and sequence that is used in literacy tutoring, nor is there one that is better. A tutor's scope and sequence will depend on where they were trained or what their program dictates. 

Structured Literacy 

Structured Literacy is an evidence-based approach to reading, spelling, comprehension, and written expression that is direct, explicit, and systematic. Literary concepts are modeled by the teacher or tutor directly, and allow for ample guided practice and independent application. Unlike its Balanced Literacy counterpart that is often found in schools and traditional reading programs, Structured Literacy leaves no room for students to "guess" or simply "pick up" concepts. The Orton-Gillingham approach is based in Structured Literacy.  

Trained with a Program 

This means a tutor has trained for a specific literacy program. Sample programs are Barton Reading and Spelling, Wilson, Lindamood-Bell, etc. Not all programs are created equal. If a tutor is trained to specifically administer the Barton program, Wilson program, Lindamood-Bell, All About Reading, etc., they would follow the program's approach, values, scope, and sequence. 

In Learn with Koala, we make sure to work with certified teachers, backed by the science of reading, and we try to make it as easy as possible for parents to find the right experts by adding  filters. You can find and book those classes at this page.

Happy Learning!

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