Some reading specialists serve school administrators as advisors about school or district literacy programs. Often, they are teachers who are considered to be special education teachers. They need to be able to develop and enact education programs that are tailored to the individual needs of a student. The typical work setting for reading specialists includes private and public schools from early childhood through secondary school.
Reading specialists are also found in reading resource centers. Specialists work at multiple schools in some school districts. Work with students is usually done on a one-on-one basis with students having particular needs such as
- Difficulty with reading
- Challenging gifted students
- Students with dyslexia
- English language learners
Besides providing direct instruction, the reading specialist may become involved in the development of the reading curriculum. They may research the latest trends and come up with a way of applying them in the classroom. Depending on their expertise, reading specialists may coach classroom teachers on providing more effective reading instruction. With a Masters in Reading degree, teachers are prepared to help improve the reading ability of students of all ages to understand the written word and possibly gain a love of reading. Many programs focus on new literacy strategies that are technology-based, such as internet learning and using podcasts.
Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants
University of Dayton
- MS in Education
The University of Dayton's online master's in educational leadership and principal licensure track. No GRE required to apply.
Requirements for a Master's in Reading Degree
A Masters in Reading degree usually involves completion of 30 to 42-credit hours. Some programs offer a concentration as a reading specialist. The degree programs are open to those with a Bachelor's degree in education and currently certified teachers. Requirements vary by state. The Bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement. Most programs require an up-to-date teaching certificate. Requirements also depend on the age level for elementary and secondary education. As a point of reference, the Appalachian State University requires the following.
- An MAT or GRE entrance exam that is no more than five years old
- A required number of references
- A resume
- A GPA of 3.0 in the last degree earned
The quantitative and qualitative aspects of the application are reviewed and compared to the applicant pool. Meeting or exceeding the requirements is not a guarantee of admission. Applicants are weighed based on the quality of the application and the number of available seats.
After enrolling in a program, graduate students take a variety of core and elective category courses. Typical core courses include teaching struggling readers, advanced teaching methods of reading, and methods to diagnose and evaluate reading issues. Aspiring reading specialists learn strategies for working with young students having difficulty reading and a diverse student body. Programs usually require a practicum that allows degree seekers an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge learned in school settings. Specific courses include:
- Assessment of reading disabilities
- Language disorders
- Multicultural children's literature
- Young adult literature
Most programs require an up-to-date teaching certificate.
Example of Master's in Reading Degree Coursework
Using the University of West Florida as an example, the program is designed to provide graduate students with the knowledge, opportunities, and skills needed to be ethical/moral professionals, counselors/mentors, critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and decision-makers. The content has students analyze reading instruction programs that are based on approved standards and use student performance to design instruction.
They will analyze and apply currently used instructional practices and reading methods that are essential to the subject matter. Professional research will be used to interpret, analyze, and evaluate so to identify relevant evidence-based practices that are meant to increase student reading achievement. Graduate students will monitor and report on the success of students in a learning environment by using various benchmarks, feedback, and learning expectations to evaluate performance in such a way that ensures accountability for everyone engaged in the process.
Critical thinking is taught by having grad students compare and contrast current literature as it relates to critical thinking and problem-solving and design reading instruction that enables students to improve creative thinking abilities. They will determine learning needs by analyzing multiple sources of assessment data to identify and apply instructional changes and monitor the progress of students. They learn to support learning and continuous improvement through reporting student assessment data to parents/caregivers and students.
Integrity and values are instilled by analyzing ethical educational setting behavior by using Florida's Department of Education's Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession. They will identify the procedure and statutory grounds for disciplinary action by acting with honesty, fairness, and integrity. Graduate students learn the penalties the Educational Commission can impose and the available appeal process. They develop self-reflection about research-based performance and feedback that demonstrates a commitment to continuously improving in setting practical goals.
Project management includes selecting and using relevant emerging instructional technology to manage, improve, and maintaining student records through the ethical use of technologies. Effective reading instruction will be designed and delivered through engaging, challenging lessons based on the cultural backgrounds and learning needs of students. Graduate students will organize, allocate, and manage the resources of space, time, and supervision of individuals and class behavior with a well-planned management system.
Diversity skills are learned by creating educational climates fostering openness, inquiry, and concern for other students. They will demonstrate advocacy for students by seeking information about their background, home environment, and culture. Grad students will collaborate with school, home, and broader communities to design instruction that meets the needs of students and acknowledges pre- and misconceptions.
How Might a Reading Master's Degree Help One's Career
Those who graduate with a Masters in Reading Education typically find work as literacy coaches or teachers. The programs typically provide certification as a reading specialist for grades K-12. However, requirements vary by state. Some careers require additional certification or licensing. Sometimes administrators and teachers turn to literacy coaches for help building the most effective literacy program. Once certification is obtained, degree holders can work as a reading coach to adolescents and children, instructional support teacher, or curriculum specialist. Those who want to learn more about reading education or interested in literacy and reading can pursue a doctoral degree after earning a Master's degree. A doctoral degree makes one eligible for leadership and research positions in reading programs. Degree holders can join an educational staff that teaches others to teach reading.