Educators who go on to obtain a master’s degree in literacy will find that many career paths become possible. In addition to teaching in private, charter and public schools in grades P-12, some teachers go on to work in special education, research and higher education, teaching undergraduate courses in literacy for community colleges or as adjuncts at universities.
Graduates who complete a master’s program in literacy can become a Reading Specialist, Title 1 Specialist or a District Reading Curriculum Specialist.
A Reading Specialist creates programs specific to the needs of the students and helps those who are struggling to read. In addition, a reading specialist can assess and diagnose students and work with teachers, parents, and other specialists to create effective reading programs. Similarly, a literacy coach does much the same, but also provides individual coaching. For students who need personal assistance to improve their reading level, a literacy coach can coordinate with the main classroom teacher.
Title 1 Reading Specialist
According to the U.S. Department of Education, a Title 1 Reading Specialist works with schools that have “high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.” The Title 1 reading teacher is generally a resource for all classroom teachers and can help recommend techniques and provide observations to individual teachers based on their needs. Administering reading assessments, evaluating test scores and collaborating with the classroom teacher are all ways a reading specialist provides support.
District Reading Curriculum Specialist
A District Reading Curriculum Specialist helps district leadership develop and implement literacy programs throughout the school district. At the district level, this specialist helps create guidelines that teachers use to form their lesson plans. Utilizing research and teaching techniques, the reading curriculum specialist is a resource for other educators, parents and the community. In addition, the reading curriculum specialist can help set district standards and develop assessment tools, aiding teachers in administering and interpreting assessment results.
The Need for Reading Specialists
The International Literacy Association prepared a position statement on the roles of the reading specialist. In brief, they write, “Teaching all children to read requires that every child receive excellent reading instruction, and that children who are struggling with reading receive additional instruction from professionals specifically prepared to teach them.” To support their position that successful reading programs in schools require professionals with advanced preparation and experience in reading, they cite studies that show that “schools will succeed only when teachers have the expertise and competence needed to teach reading effectively.”
The majority of reading specialists work in elementary schools, middle schools and secondary schools; however, they are also involved in adult literacy, and in private reading clinics and tutoring centers.
Eastern Washington University offers an online Master of Education in Literacy program that is convenient, flexible and affordable. The program provides preparation for the many and varied opportunities available to teachers with a master’s degree in literacy.
Learn more about the Eastern Washington University online M.Ed. in Literacy program.