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Reading Specialist Certification and Certificate Program Information

Reading specialist programs provide teachers with in-depth knowledge of language, literacy and reading, along with the skills to develop programs and strategies to better teach students how to read. Graduate certificate programs are available and can prepare students for state certification as reading specialists.

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Graduate Certificate Programs for Reading Specialists

Reading specialists usually need a standard teaching license as well as state certification for their specialization; certificate programs are generally designed to help fulfill state certification requirements. A certificate program is offered at a graduate level, either in combination with a master's degree or as its own program.

In most programs, students learn about language acquisition, processes and development. Students can also gain skills in planning differentiated programs, instruction and assessment related to literacy. Many reading specialist curriculums guide students in strategies to be used in classrooms, such as independent reading and motivation for reading. Students usually participate in a practicum or internship semester. These programs take, on average, 1-2 years to complete.

Educational Prerequisites

Reading specialist certificate programs are intended for currently licensed teachers and require proof of an undergraduate degree and state licensure as a teacher. Also, students might be asked to take the General Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). Other prerequisites vary, but they can include prior coursework in educational psychology, children's literature and teaching methodologies for reading.

Program Coursework

Reading specialist programs cover literacy research, theories, curriculum development and instructional practices. Courses might examine the following topics:

  • Diagnosing reading problems
  • Evaluation of reading programs
  • Cognitive development
  • Reading development
  • Children's literature
  • Adolescent literature
  • Action research
  • Curriculum development
  • Foundations in education
  • Literacy assessment

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have specific data available for reading specialists, as of 2010, the median annual salary for middle school teachers was $51,960 and $53,230 for secondary schools teachers (www.bls.gov). The BLS expected employment of these teachers to grow at an average rate of 13% during the period from 2008-2018. Earning reading specialist certification might lead to advancement in many school districts.

Certification and Continuing Education

Certification requirements for reading specialists vary by state and can include completion of an Educational Testing Service Praxis II exam for reading specialists or a master's degree. A graduate certificate program might also fulfill many of the requirements for state certification. Certified reading specialists commonly need to complete continuing education or professional development in order to maintain their certification and stay abreast of new developments in literacy instruction.

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