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Reading Specialist
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Reading Specialist
In the Department of Health and Behavior Studies

Program Advisory Statement

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Program Advisory Statement

The Program leading to a Master of Arts (M.A.) as a Reading Specialist consists of approximately 34 credits of coursework and an integrative project.  This is a dual-certification program: successful completion leads to eligibility for initial and/or professional State certifications in Literacy for levels, Birth-6, and 5-12.  Those individuals who do not have a New York State teaching certification will need to take the standardized tests mandated by New York State to be recommended for initial certification. In addition, students need to have completed two workshops, one on issues in child abuse detection, and another on violence protection.  Information for enrolling in these workshops can be found on the Teacher's College website home page by accessing "Resources for Students" and then going into the Workshop category in the Office of Teacher Education Support Services link.

The Reading Specialist Program provides students with a broad foundation in applied educational psychology, and concentrated preparation in assessment and remediation of reading, writing and associated difficulties. Literacy acquisition is addressed as a complex learning process which is basic to all other forms of academic learning, and is understood in terms of linguistic, ethnic, and cultural diversity. The program philosophy emphasizes a combination of direct, structured instruction in word-level and reading comprehension strategies; intervention to promote the enjoyment of literature and expressive writing; use of both narrative and expository text; and the use of literacy for functional purposes. Behavioral interventions and measurement concepts are taught. Students are prepared to understand recent research findings and draw implications for literacy assessment and instruction using evidence-based practices. A variety of procedures are taught for evaluating literacy skills, including both classroom instruments and standardized norm-referenced tests. The program has a lifespan focus and students gain experience with child, adolescent, and adult learners.

Graduates of the program work as literacy specialists in schools, community agencies, psychoeducational clinics, community colleges, and private practice. Preparation also occurs in the area of professional development and leadership roles.

In addition to fulfilling the course requirements, students are expected to maintain a grade average of B or better, and prepare and submit a Masters (integrative) project judged by the Program faculty to be of professional quality.

To be considered for the Program, applicants must possess an undergraduate degree.  Admissions decisions are based upon the undergraduate academic record, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.
 
According to State guidelines, students who complete the Reading Specialist Program can be recommended by TC for state certification as a Teacher of Literacy if they have prior teaching certification in another (non-Literacy) teaching area.  Students who complete the program who do not have this certification will earn their M.A. but will not be eligible for State certification as a Teacher of Literacy.  Students who wish to teach in a public school should have the prior certification.  If a student acquires certification in another teaching area after completing the Reading Specialist M.A., TC will provide an institutional endorsement for literacy certification.