JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

JSU To Offer Reading Specialist Master's Degree

Jamie M. Eubanks
JSU News Bureau

Jacksonville State University's College of Education and Professional Studies has just made it easier for educators to move up on the pay scale and have more career opportunities by receiving a new master's degree.

JSU is proud to offer the Reading Specialist Master's degree to its students. While there are seven other programs in the state, JSU's is first to be approved by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).

Alabama has placed Literacy Demonstration Sites in schools all across the state. Teachers are given the responsibility of diagnosing reading troubles and encouraging and assisting readers.

And teachers with no special training were filling these roles. Now they can earn credentials. But more than credentials these educators will receive more appropriate education and content for this position.

Applicants must have two years of teaching experience before beginning the Reading Specialist program. It is a 30-33 hour master's program that consists of 24 hours of reading courses. The other 6-9 hours is foundation courses and research.

"Not only will students earn the credentials," Dr. Cynthia Harper, associate professor of education at JSU, "they will gain greater future career opportunities and expand their knowledge of reading."

Alabama Reading Initiative formed the Alabama Literacy Collaborative that is teaming with JSU to provide additional coursework with practicums, workshops and professional development. This collaboration helps to streamline the certification of Reading Specialists.

And students are currently enrolled for courses. Twenty-seven teachers who were already serving at Literacy Demonstration Sites have turned to JSU to receive their credentials.

"Quality has not been sacrificed. We're already receiving praise for our program," comments Harper. "And it is encouraging other universities to pursue it."

Other universities are following JSU's lead in this area of education. Many will pattern their programs around JSU's.

"We're pleased to be a leader in this field," says Dr. Sheila Anne Webb, Dean, College of Education and Professional Studies. "We have the largest number of education majors in the state and it falls to us to provide steps in leadership."

"Reading is vital to life success. There is a need for betterment for children in Alabama. And we're constantly changing to meet that need."


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