Reading Specialist

Initial License

Master’s Degree (M.Ed.) or Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS)

The core of the reading program trains students to use scientifically based research strategies while in the roles of reading teacher and diagnostician, writing instructor, and literacy leader/coach. Candidates apply theory in their courses as they complete projects designed to help them to synthesize literacy skills related to teaching, assessing, collecting, and analyzing data while designing programs to meet individual and group needs.

Universal Design is used as a tool for teaching literacy program development. Key assessments and instructional approaches to meet the needs of ELL students and other diverse learners are threaded throughout each course. Twenty-first century skills are woven into the program through internet inquiry-based projects and use of key diverse media and technological tools.

The program is composed of three major elements: (1) the theoretical perspective that explores the process of reading as it relates to the other language components of listening, speaking, and writing in regular education; (2) the diagnostic component that gains insight into a child’s reading process through in-depth training in literacy assessments and analysis; and (3) an application component, in which research and assessment data are related to practice.

Reading-strategy instruction will be applied and refined in direct contact with children. A variety of print, technology, and other media will be incorporated into the format of each course. All candidates (even veteran teachers) must successfully pass the Communication and Literacy portions of the MTEL and the Reading Specialist MTEL prior to completing a 150-hour practicum in a school under the supervision of a college supervisor and supervising practitioner. Successful completion of the licensure program will entitle candidates to be endorsed for Initial licensure as a reading specialist for all levels in Massachusetts. There is a non-licensure opportunity for those not seeking the license. Candidates completing the non-licensure option are not required to complete the MTELs (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure).

Candidates in the reading program are required to have a prior Initial or Professional teaching license, and to have taught for at least one year under that license.

Learning Outcomes for Reading Specialist

At the completion of the program, the candidate in the Reading Specialist Program will:

  • Possess a firm knowledge of the broad foundations of literacy, including the sociolinguistic fundamentals of reading and writing processes and instruction, research, and methodology.
  • Be able to utilize a wide range of instructional practices and curriculum materials to support reading and writing instruction, including technology-based practices and children’s literature to meet the needs of diverse students.
  • Understand and use diverse diagnostic tools and assessment data to plan, evaluate, and revise effective instruction that meets the needs of all students, including those at different developmental stages and those from differing cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In addition, candidates will be able to communicate results of assessments to students, parents, colleagues, and the broader community.
  • Create a literate environment that fosters a love of reading and writing by appealing to students’ interests, abilities, backgrounds, and identities. Candidates will honor and respect the language and literacy practices that a student brings from his or her home and community, establishing effective home-school connections with a range of fiction and nonfiction literature, technology-based information, and non-print materials, representing multiple reading levels.
  • Become leaders in professional development, by establishing ongoing trajectories of inquiry and reflection. As lifelong learners and literacy leaders, our candidates may make lasting connections to their communities, and create emancipatory opportunities for colleagues, students, and their families, through the practices of critical literacy.

What I realized after a few courses was that my mindsight had shifted from merely survive to thrive as the case studies, book reviews, and readings came to life in interviews, professional development days, and in my very classroom.

2014 Graduate,
Brittany Giambrone

What You'll Learn

Learn how reading relates to listening and speech, how a child’s reading process works, and how research and assessment of data is related to hands on teaching.

Future Studies

Successful completion of the Reading Specialist program includes studies under the supervision of a college supervisor and supervising practitioner.

Career Opportunities

Successful candidates in the licensure track are endorsed for Massachusetts Initial license as a Reading Specialist for all grade levels. There is also a non-licensure opportunity for those interested in earning the Master’s or CAGS degree without a license.

Course Requirements

  • EDU 5703: Advanced Developmental Reading
  • EDU 5715: Speech and Language Development
  • EDU 5725: Specialized Practices in Reading
  • EDU 5815: Advanced Analysis of Reading and Language Arts
  • EDU 5850: Effective Literacy Coaching Strategies to Improve Student Achievement
  • EDU 6244: Organization, Administration, and Supervision of Reading Program
  • EDU 6345: Teaching Language Arts and the Writing Process

Required Field Orientation

  • EDU 6547: Children’s and Adolescent Literature

Required Practicum Orientation

Prior to the Practicum experience, there is a mandatory practicum orientation session.

Field Experience Explanation for Recommendation of Licensure

Candidates seeking endorsement for Initial teacher licensure must successfully complete the course sequence and all required field experience hours.


  • EDU 6848/6849: Practicum in Education I/II: Reading


  • EDU 6649/6650: Field-Based Research I/II: Moderate Disabilities

Additional Program Notes

All licensure candidates have the option to take EDU 6625: Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement Course for Teachers. SEI is not a requirement for practicum nor obtaining your degree. This is a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requirement to obtain your licensure.

Master of Education degree or CAGS awarded
Total credits: 30

Course Descriptions

This course provides an overview of literacy development for K-12 students. Current research related to the five components of reading and effective literacy instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) will be reviewed. Potential impact of poverty on students’ readiness for learning to read will be discussed. Issues related to brain-based reading and language development and acquisition will be introduced. An in-depth study of scientifically-based instructional approaches and assessment practices related to phonological awareness, phonics and advanced decoding will be presented and will serve as the foundation for designing differentiated instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. Students will be required to collect, analyze and interpret data for their case study students using specific literacy assessments appropriate for first and second English language learners. Using the Universal Design Model, students will develop an instructional plan for their case study students. 21st Century internet research approaches will be presented to hone students’ understanding of how to implement effective instruction for primary, elementary and adolescent readers. PREREQUISITES: Enrollment in the graduate education program.

Course materials relate to each of the components of reading and to the writing process. Research-based language and literacy instructional approaches will be studied. Stages of first and second language development will be presented and special attention will be paid to the needs of English language learners and diverse populations in relation to each of the elements of language (phonetics, morphology, semantics, syntax, discourse and pragmatics). Language-based disabilities will be studied in terms of their impact on literacy development. Assessment approaches will be presented as they relate to diagnostic techniques and remedial instructional strategies. Program development and evaluation will be discussed in terms of language and literacy components. Issues related to the historical roots of English and dialect will be explored in terms of their potential impact on student performance. Students will utilize recommended websites while studying language development and literacy connections. Using Universal Design methods, they will apply their newly gained knowledge as they develop instructional plans for students who need reading remediation due to language difficulties that relate to literacy.

A survey of current research and theories of literacy development will be presented. An in-depth study of scientifically-based instruction related to vocabulary, fluency and comprehension will be presented and the relationship between effective language and writing development and reading will be explored. This course provides the student with knowledge of significant programs and practices for teaching reading and language arts to diverse populations including English language learners, young children, adolescents and students with special needs. Students will gain proficiency in using specific reading strategies through modeling lessons and analyzing student work. Screening and diagnostic assessments will be used to identify specific strengths and weaknesses of struggling, proficient and advanced readers by analyzing and utilizing collected data. 21st Century inquiry approaches will be emphasized when teaching comprehension and writing connections and specific Web 2.0 tools will be recommended to aid remediation. The selection and use of appropriate programs, materials, and technology will be central to addressing the diverse needs in today’s classroom.

Through use of informal and formal assessments, students will learn how to effectively collect, analyze, and interpret data, as well as plan appropriate programs for diverse populations such as special needs students, English language learners and struggling readers. RtI, intervention approaches and progress monitoring strategies are studied in light of scientifically based reading research on effective literacy instructional practices for struggling readers. Training will include methods to evaluate and select the best literacy assessments to diagnose specific reading difficulties and ways to use technology to aid in data collection and analysis. While working on case studies, students will learn how to develop a hypothesis, develop assessment and progress monitoring plans and analyze data. Using Universal Design, students will create an instructional plan which includes a method to determine their students’ responses to intervention.

This course prepares students to assume literacy coaching responsibilities in a school. Research theory related to effective models for coaching teachers, school reform and professional development will be applied throughout the course as students plan literacy professional development modules designed to improve student achievement and teacher capacity to meet the needs of all learners.

This course prepares students to assume responsibilities for literacy programs in K-12 diverse (urban, suburban, and rural) K-12 school districts. Students will investigate research-based approaches to system-wide development of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in literacy (listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking).  In addition, students will examine methods and materials employed by literacy leaders to train teachers and administrators in differentiated practices that meet the needs of diverse learner populations (English language learners, special education students, students with a 504 plan, and enrichment students). Training in the design of targeted professional development programs will incorporate the principles of Universal Design and the framework for, 21st Century learning.  Students will work in study groups and will be afforded the opportunity to analyze and interpret data sets and work samples. Theory and competency training related to being an effective literacy supervisor, consultant, in-service trainer, coach and mentor will be utilized during case study work throughout the course. Effective methods for supporting school-wide literacy improvement, evaluating literacy programs and assessments and implementing RTI (Response to Intervention) will be presented. Use of technology will be required as part of the students’ final project. PREREQUISITES: Enrollment in the Reading Specialist Program.

This course prepares students to plan specific practical strategies for challenging and extending student writing, spelling, and grammar usage. Students will be training in utilizing data from writing assessments in order to better plan instruction for diverse learners and for promoting 21st Century critical thinking and research skills when reading and writing. Specific consideration will be paid to instructional methods that are effective for English language learners including use of technology and Web 2.0 tools. The relationship between reading, language and writing skill development will be studied. Universal Design will be utilized when planning instruction for a case study student. Effective approaches for standards-based writing instruction will be studied. Students will be encouraged to use specific web-resources to expand their knowledge of the needs of writers from all grade level and to use technological resources to motivate student writers.

This course involves a general study of the field of literature for children and adolescents in addition to promoting students’ love of reading. Research theory related to engaging struggling or reluctant readers and increasing accessibility to literature for English language learners will be reviewed and applied while working on projects. Critical criteria for selection of picture books, multi-cultural literature and books from different genre will be studied. Texts will be discussed in terms of genre, literary elements, author’s craft, cultural themes and integration into the curriculum. Foundation knowledge from EDC 498 and EDC 545 related to English language learners, struggling readers and writers, comprehension, vocabulary, and using assessment data to determine reading level will be applied when discussing all topics. Emphasis will be placed on the integration of pairing expository texts with fiction and embedding instruction in reading comprehension strategies while exploring literature. Multi-cultural curriculum projects will require students to use Universal Design and to synthesize knowledge gained in current and prior courses. 21st Century inquiry and technological skills will be employed while utilizing website and Web 2.0 tools to deepen K-12 students’ engagement with text.

This course will provide a comprehensive model for instruction for preparing teachers to work with English language learners, (PreK-12) in all classrooms. Using a structured immersion approach (SEI), such as the SIOP Model, students will practice the cycle of assessment, lesson design and implementation of instructional strategies that provide access to grade level content for ELL learners. Students will plan, design and present a model lesson following the SIOP Model.

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