Ahhhh Facebook, the hotspot for Fake News. “If it is not on Facebook,” my husband jokes, “it didn’t really happen.” Unfortunately, we share information with others as if everything that we see and hear on social media is true. Even flyers and business cards could have partial truths, but the way they are written will not make us question the source. Of course, this is exactly what the deceptive person or organization wants; they hope that you do not look too closely and discover inconsistencies or misstatements.
But I am advising you to do your homework.
In preparation for the summer lag, many tutors and companies gear up with advertising and promote their services. This is business, and I plan to do it myself. But realize that you as the customer must be savvy enough to check out the credentials. Recently, I have observed flyers going around social networking groups about a summer reading program sponsored by a university. It has the university logo in the corner and looks as though this particular university has the research to support this program. After all, it is a university, right? Wrong. If you look on the back of the flyer, it clearly says, “These popular summer programs are taught by instructors from the X Institute. Programs are offered through Popular University’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies.” You would never pay attention to the small print because the flyer wants you to believe the instructors are trained through the university. Is this fraudulent? No, but it is deceptive. X Institute is a private company that works through the Continuing Education Department of many universities. If you look carefully, this is no different from going to any tutoring franchise, except it looks like you are getting something better….university trained instructors.
Misleading behavior goes even further. Many people looking for reading help want Wilson Certified tutors to work with their children. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, How to Choose a Reading Tutor, parents should ask to see credentials. Ask to see certifications and know the person’s training. But what if someone who is not Wilson Certified says that he or she is certified on Facebook, and goes so far as to print business cards with the words, “Wilson Certified Dyslexia Practitioner?” Is this little fib a problem? Well, yes. Wilson certification requires at least 90 hours of online training and at least 60 hours of practicum, one-on-one with a student, and at least five observations by a credentialed trainer! An introductory course or professional development at school is not the same as hiring someone with such extensive training and certification.
I called Wilson to see if their Directory of WRS Certified Professionals was available for someone to see. Their representative told me that anyone can call to find out and that they will send you the information upon request. Here is what the Wilson Website says, “To find a certified instructor in your area, or to verify that a teacher or tutor you are currently using is WRS certified, please contact us or call the Wilson Customer Support Center at 800.899.8454 (Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm ET). I suggest you do. Any certified person will encourage you to go to the list and see for yourself. Flyers and business cards can distort the truth. Use objective resources to get the facts.
Faith Borkowsky, Owner and Lead Educational Consultant of High Five Literacy and Academic Coaching, is a Certified Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner, is Orton-Gillingham trained, and has extensive training and experience in a number of other research-based, peer-reviewed programs that have produced positive gains for students with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, ADD/ADHD, and a host of learning difficulties. Her book, Reading Intervention Behind School Walls: Why Your Child Continues to Struggle, is available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/1543060781