Graduate Certificate in Literacy Intervention in Grades 3–6: A Program for Literacy Leaders
The Literacy program offers a four-course, 16-credit graduate certificate that focuses on leadership in literacy instruction for teachers and administrators working with children in elementary school, with particular emphasis on grades 3–6. Taken as a whole, the certificate represents the cornerstones of literacy instruction. Courses will examine effective practices in reading and writing, including reading and writing across the curriculum, successful approaches to literacy assessment, intervention strategies, and designs for differentiating instruction that address the needs of all learners.
The courses offered through this certificate program are geared toward in-service professionals who desire deeper knowledge of literacy practices and instruction but may not wish to pursue an academic degree at the present time. However, the certificate’s design allows interested students to apply the courses towards a master’s degree or CAGS, in the event they decide to continue their studies through a formal program at the School of Education.
The four-course certificate consists of the following topics:
- Literacy Leadership (observing, evaluating, coaching, and providing instructional leadership to classroom teachers)
- Seminar in Literacy Assessment
- Literacy Instruction for Bilingual students
- Instructional Interventions for Reading and Writing
Why take this program?
Recently, national attention has focused on the literacy skills, particularly in reading, of the youngest students in our country’s public schools. The federally supported Reading First program and other policies and programs stemming from No Child Left Behind have heightened attention on reading preparation in the early grades. Despite this awareness, little attention has been directed toward students’ literacy learning in the upper elementary grades, leaving an instructional void for those classroom teachers trying to address the needs of older students. Yet, the need for high-quality literacy instruction is particularly great for these older students as they begin to apply their newly learned skills in reading and writing to the acquisition of information in the content areas.
An examination of trends in students’ scores on national and state assessments supports the imperative for high-quality instruction. At the state level in Massachusetts, where assessment of children’s literacy competence through the MCAS begins in the third grade, student gains have not increased significantly in the past two years of testing, and in the most recent assessments, a slight decline in fourth-grade reading scores was reported. Furthermore, while 71% of white third-grade students scored in the proficient range, only 41% of African American and 33% of Hispanic students achieved the same levels of proficiency. Nationally, evidence from the 2003 NAEP scores in reading and writing reveals that many children fail to attain proficient levels at the fourth-grade level. While 43% of white fourth graders and 48% of Asian students reach the proficient level in reading, many children continue to fall below standard benchmarks. Here, too, progress for African American and Hispanic children has occurred at an especially slow rate, with only 10% of African American fourth graders and 16% of Hispanic children attaining the proficient level. An even greater concern is that across all levels and racial groups, students’ scores do not improve as they progress beyond the fourth grade. In fact, NAEP scores reveal that eighth-grade reading achievement has not improved at any level for the past five years and demonstrated only modest gains for the six years prior to that.
Such indicators make visible the need for instruction that will foster literacy growth for children in the later elementary grades. Literacy must be at the heart of all efforts to improve children’s academic achievement; without proficiency in reading and writing, students are unable to manage the assessment benchmarks set by national and state tests or meet the rigors of secondary school and the demands of higher-level academic work.
In the current national climate of assessment and accountability, higher demands for results rest squarely on the shoulders of principals, administrators, and lead teachers who are increasingly called upon to provide instructional and curricular leadership in children’s literacy learning and assessment. Unfortunately, these school leaders are often unprepared to assist their teachers in addressing the myriad learning issues presented by students in today’s diverse classrooms.
This certificate will provide the research and practical knowledge necessary for school leaders and classroom teachers to develop and implement effective literacy programs and practices. The expected outcome is higher levels of student achievement.
For information about applying to this program, please visit the Admissions section of our website.