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The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has five graduate programs in Reading and Literacy Education. These programs are designed to prepare reading educators for their diverse roles as defined by the International Reading Association professional standards. A description of the five programs, including their historical context, is described below.
The Master’s in Reading degree has been offered for approximately 30 years, and has prepared reading specialists across Arkansas and other states, including recent graduates from Wisconsin, North Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, and Missouri. The Master’s in Reading is Nationally Recognized by the International Reading Association (IRA) and accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The degree consists of a 36-hour program of study with 21 hours of concentrated reading coursework that includes preparation in reading foundations, reading theory, reading research, diagnosis of reading difficulties, vocabulary and comprehension strategies, children’s literature, language strategies, reading in the content areas, teaching culturally different children, early intervention programs, best practices in reading, and others. The reading program also includes supervised clinical experiences in early intervention, reading practicum, and an advanced reading practicum. Prior to graduation, candidates must complete a comprehensive exam and pass the Praxis for Reading Specialist. Graduates are eligible to obtain Reading Specialist licensure in the state of Arkansas.
The UALR Literacy Coach Certificate (LCC) degree is a post-master’s program that has been offered at UALR since 2005. It was created in response to the International Reading Association position statement of the need for universities to provide credentialed programs to prepare reading specialists for the new role of literacy coach. Currently, UALR is one of only a few universities in the United States where a student can earn a post-master’s credential as a literacy coach.
The LC-GC program is designed to prepare literacy coaches in the areas of research-based literacy practices, professional experiences in reading, supervising and coordinating a school’s literacy program, coaching teachers in reflective practice, leading study groups, data analysis at individual, group, and school levels, school planning, curriculum development, and teaching struggling readers. The LC-GC program requires that candidates will be able to carry out a variety of practical experiences that are related to the roles and responsibilities of a literacy coach. To be accepted into the LC-GC program, a candidate must be employed as a literacy coach in a school. Literacy coaches are employed within districts at two levels: 1) building-level literacy coach, or 2) district-level literacy coach. The LC-GC program of study is designed to differentiate assignments to accommodate the unique roles of the literacy coach within the school.
The Literacy Intervention Specialist Certificate is an 18-hour program of study for preparing candidates for the specialized role of intervention specialist. The courses focus on teaching struggling readers, including diagnosis of reading difficulties, designing interventions for working with individuals and small groups, and creating a comprehensive intervention model for literacy improvement. All courses within the Literacy Intervention Specialist certificate can be applied toward an advanced degree in reading education.
The Educational Specialist in Reading program is a 36-hour program of study designed to prepare candidates for a leadership role in literacy-related areas, including literacy curriculum specialists, literacy coaches, teacher leaders, literacy supervisors, teacher educators, and other leadership roles in reading instruction. The reading program requires clinical experiences in a school setting, including coordinating a school’s literacy program, coaching teachers, conducting professional development, assessing children, and providing interventions to struggling readers. Prior to graduation, candidates are required to pass written comprehensive exams and to defend a portfolio of their work from courses, including intervention report, case study/action research, leadership literacy portfolio, and reflective practice portfolio. During the final 6 hours of their program, candidates are required to complete and defend a thesis or a research project in a literacy-related area.
The Doctor of Philosophy in Reading degree was approved in 2007. The goal of the PhD in Reading is to prepare reading educators for leadership roles in scholarly practice, literacy research, and teaching at university or college levels. The PhD in Reading degree is a research-oriented program with rigorous coursework in literacy theories combined with cognitive apprenticeships in the field and opportunities to collaborate with faculty on scholarly work and research projects. The program prepares candidates with specialized knowledge and experience related to literacy issues in K-12 schools, universities, and the wider context of teaching and learning. The program requires a minimum of 108 semester hours (72 hours beyond master’s degree). The literacy core provides an integrated exploration of seminal theories, key research studies, and historical contributions in reading instruction. The research core addresses current information about research design and methods for quantitative and qualitative studies, including statistics and data management. The specialty areas provide students with a range of options for deepening their knowledge in concentrated areas. The culminating project is a scholarly dissertation of original research in a significant literacy area.