The Graduate Certificate Reading Specialist prepares teachers for certification as a Reading Specialist in grades K-12. Reading specialists must demonstrate the ability to produce high levels of student achievement in literacy. Literacy requires an understanding of reading and writing intertwined with the ability to interpret critically and apply new information to existing knowledge. Every school should have access to Reading Specialists who have specialized training related to addressing reading difficulties and who can give guidance to classroom teachers in language arts, writing, and content area reading.
The program competencies are the ILA (International Literacy Association) Standards, summarized below, and can be accessed in their entirety through the ILA’s website.
The program develops reading experts who have demonstrated mastery in:
Standard 1. Theoretical/ Foundational
Candidates understand the theoretical and evidence-based foundations of reading and writing processes and instruction. Specifically, candidates:
1.1 : Understand major theories and empirical research that describe the cognitive, linguistic, motivational, and socio-cultural foundations of reading and writing development, processes, and components, including word recognition, language comprehension, strategic knowledge, and reading–writing connections
1.2 : Understand the historically shared knowledge of the profession and changes over time in the perceptions of reading and writing development, processes, and components
Standard 2. Curriculum and Instruction
Candidates use instructional approaches, materials, and an integrated, comprehensive, balanced curriculum to support student learning in reading and writing. Specifically, candidates:
2.1 : Use foundational knowledge to design or implement an integrated, comprehensive, and balanced curriculum. [Reading specialists may have responsibilities for teaching students who struggle with learning to read and must also be able to support teachers in their efforts to provide effective instruction for all students.]
2.2 : Use appropriate and varied instructional approaches, including those that develop word recognition, language comprehension, strategic knowledge, and reading–writing connections. [McKenna and Stahl (2009) define reading as including word recognition, language comprehension, and strategic knowledge (see the Glossary for their definition of cognitive model of reading).
2.3 : Use a wide range of texts (e.g., narrative, expository, and poetry) from traditional print, digital, and online resources
Standard 3. Assessment and Evaluation
Candidates use a variety of assessment tools and practices to plan and evaluate effective reading and writing instruction. Specifically, candidates 3.1: Understand types of assessments and their purposes, strengths, and limitations
3.2: Select, develop, administer, and interpret assessments, both traditional print and electronic, for specific purposes. [Reading specialists may have responsibilities for teaching students who struggle with learning to read and must also be able to support teachers in their efforts to provide effective instruction for all students.]
Standard 4. Diversity
Candidates create and engage their students in literacy practices that develop awareness, understanding, respect, and a valuing of differences in our society. Specifically, candidates:
4.1 : Recognize, understand, and value the forms of diversity that exist in society and their importance in learning to read and write. [Reading specialists may have responsibilities for teaching students who struggle with learning to read and must also be able to support teachers in their efforts to provide effective instruction for all students.]
4.2 : Use a literacy curriculum and engage in instructional practices that positively impact students’ knowledge, beliefs, and engagement with the features of diversity.
4.3 : Develop and implement strategies to advocate for equity.
Standard 5. Literate Environment
Candidates create a literate environment that fosters reading and writing by integrating foundational knowledge, instructional practices, approaches and methods, curriculum materials, and the appropriate use of assessments. Specifically, candidates
5.1 : Design the physical environment to optimize students’ use of traditional print, digital, and online resources in reading and writing instruction
5.2 : Design a social environment that is low risk and includes choice, motivation, and scaffolded support to optimize students’ opportunities for learning to read and write. [Reading specialists may have responsibilities for teaching students who struggle with learning to read and must also be able to support teachers in their efforts to provide effective instruction for all students.]
Standard 6. Professional Learning and Leadership
Candidates recognize the importance of, demonstrate, and facilitate professional learning and leadership as a career-long effort and responsibility. Specifically, candidates
6.1 : Demonstrate foundational knowledge of adult learning theories and related research about organizational change, professional development, and school culture
6.2 : Display positive dispositions related to their own reading and writing and the teaching of reading and writing, and pursue the development of individual professional knowledge and behaviors. [This element deals with positive attitudes not only with colleagues but also with community members, parents and guardians, and so forth.]
6.3 : Participate in, design, facilitate, lead, and evaluate effective and differentiated professional development programs.
The assessment of outcomes consists of multiple measures. Grades on assignments and for courses are the first level of assessment. The course goals, learning outcomes, and assignments are designed to address the measurement of program and graduation competencies. Candidates will take an online test of their content knowledge at the end of their program, as well as a disposition survey. PRAXIS II (5301 Reading Specialist) must be taken and passed (score of 164) prior to petitioning for the certificate. It is a requirement. Praxis scores should be submitted to Wilmington University via ETS. They will also need to be posted in Taskstream.
This certificate is 24-26 credits of content specific courses related to various literacy needs of learners and required by the Delaware Department of Education. The certificate program requires that candidates be working in an educational setting to complete the program competency assignments. The Graduate Certificate as Reading Specialist is designed to meet four sets of professional standards: Delaware Professional Teaching Standards (DPTS), International Literacy Association (ILA), National Council for Accreditation Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards. There is a noncredit (MED 6102) E-Folio course requirement.
MED 6102 E-Folio
MLL 7402 Second Language Acquisition in ELL
MRD 7802 Process and Acquisition of Literacy
MRD 7930 Coaching Adult Learners (Cert Candidates, only)
MRD 7806 Writing Assessment and Instruction (Cert Candidates, only)
MRD 7815 Application of Strategies for Teaching Content Area Reading
MRD 7903 Diagnosis and Correction of Reading Difficulties
MRD 7920 Practicum in Reading
MRD 7903: This course requires a final grade of “B” or higher
MRD 7815: The State will accept MRD 7805 (3 cr.) but this is not written to reading specialist standards
This certificate program contributes to eligibility for certification as an educator in Delaware public schools. As such, all candidates must meet the content and performance assessment requirements described in DE Administrative Code, Title 14, Regulation 290.
The regulation states, in part:
“Where a content readiness exam is applicable and available in area, subject, or category of specialization sought, the Candidate shall achieve a passing score on an examination as established by the Professional Standards Board, in consultation with the Department and with concurrence of the State Board.”
“Where a performance assessment is applicable and available in an area appropriate to the Program in which a Candidate is enrolled, the Candidate shall achieve a passing score as a requirement to Exit the Program. The performance assessment may not be scored by any employees of the Educator Preparation Program or Unit, and shall be scored by Certified Reviewers.”
The instrument selected by Wilmington University as a required exit assessment for Graduate Certificate Reading Specialist is ETS Praxis II, Test Code #5301. The minimum acceptable score is 164. The assessment is administered and scored by ETS. It is the candidate’s responsibility to have PRAXIS II scores sent to Wilmington University directly from ETS (Educational Testing Service).
Candidates must obtain passing scores for this exam in order to be eligible to petition for the Graduate Certificate as Reading Specialist. Candidates must consult with program advisors and/or the program chair to obtain the most current information about this requirement.
Qualifications for Certificate
To qualify for the Graduate Certificate Reading Specialist, a candidate must meet all criteria noted in the Outcomes Assessment paragraph, above.
Candidates completing the required sequence of courses listed above with a GPA of 3.00 or higher will, upon application to the Wilmington University Office of the Registrar, be issued a Wilmington University Graduate Certificate as Reading Specialist. Applications may be found on the Wilmington University Registrar’s webpage.
Current Delaware Department of Education regulations (DE Title 14, §1581) stipulate that teachers who hold a valid Delaware Initial, continuing, or Advanced License; or a Professional Status Certificate issued by the Department prior to December 31, 2003, and who have met the requirements as set forth in 14 DE Admin. Code 1505 and who have met the additional requirements in the regulation may apply for a State of Delaware Standard Certificate as a Reading Specialist. This includes three years of successful classroom teaching.
However, certification requirements are subject to change by the Delaware Department of Education and the Professional Standards Board. The most recent information about those requirements can be accessed at the Delaware Department of Education/Professional Standards Board website.
Any changes in Delaware licensure and certification regulations could cause Wilmington University to make course and/or program adjustments in order to align with new or revised state requirements. Wilmington University reserves the right to change requirements to comply with any licensure/certification mandates of the Delaware Department of Education.