Feb 28, 2024  
Fitchburg State University 2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
    
Fitchburg State University 2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Reading Specialist, Non-Licensure Concentration, Special Education, M.Ed.


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Graduate Program Chair

Margaret O’Hearn-Curran, Ph.D.

Graduate Curriculum Committee


Nermin Bayazit, PhD
Lyndsey Benharris, PhD
Anne Howard, PhD
Laurie Link, EdD
Margaret O’Hearn-Curran, PhD
Phillip Saisa, EdD

Robert Shapiro, PhD, BCBA-D
Annette Sullivan, EdD

Program Description


This program defines the knowledge and skills necessary for effective assessment, instruction and leadership in the field of reading. It responds to the needs of school districts by preparing specialists in leadership roles, as well as to the needs of students with a wide range of abilities.

The Reading Specialist Program provides candidates with a rigorous, research based curriculum and a range of assessment, teaching and staff development opportunities.

This concentration does not lead to reading specialist licensure. Initial licensure or permission of the program chair is required for entry into this concentration.

Prerequisite Courses

  • Children or Young Adult Literature
  • Child Development (or equivalent)
  • Principles and Practices of Teaching Reading (or equivalent)

Total 33 Credits


Program Learning Outcomes


  • Candidates understand the theoretical foundations of educational research and can determine the implications for instructional practice. They are able to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of various types of studies and sampling procedures and can identify sources of research bias.
  • Candidates synthesize research on best practices in education and implement action research to evaluate the efficacy of an instructional practice.
  • Candidates gain knowledge of the theoretical, historical, and research-based practices related to the development of literacy and language. An emphasis is placed on scientifically based reading instruction.
  • Candidates develop expertise in analyzing and adapting curricula to support the literacy needs of all learners. This includes listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Candidates develop proficiency in the assessment of student literacy achievement using a range of formative, summative and normative assessments.
  • Candidates are able to evaluate the technical adequacy and cultural appropriateness of specific instruments used for screening, progress monitoring and diagnosis.
  • Candidates analyze assessment data to effectively communicate results to a variety of stakeholders and to develop literacy instruction for a broad range of learners.
  • Candidates create inclusive classrooms, advocate for equity and affirm students’ identities through experiences that encourage scholarship in the areas of diversity and equity.  
  • Candidates develop competency in a variety of instructional strategies using print and digital materials to motivate and engage all learners.
  • Candidates develop the leadership skills necessary to facilitate ongoing school and district literacy initiatives and to promote professional development activities. 

Adapted from Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals (2017). International Literacy Association

Admissions Requirments


Completed applications are reviewed on a rolling admission basis. Admissions requirements are as follows:

  • Official transcript of a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Professional resume
  • Initial Massachusetts licensure in early childhood, elementary, middle school or special education
  • Have taught under an Initial Massachusetts Educator License for a minimum of one year
  • Passing scores for the Communication and Literacy subtest of the Massachusetts Test of Educator Licensure (MTEL)
  • Official transcripts of graduate level course work from a regionally accredited institution (if applicable)
  • Graduate application and fee
  • An essay, no more than one page in length, in response to one of the following questions:
    • Tell us about a positive situation in which you helped a person and made a significant difference in that person’s life.
    • What are the most important factors in establishing a long-term working relationship with students, friends, etc.?
    • Tell us about a significant event that involved you in a teaching or helping mode.
      • Describe the situation as it occurred at the time.
      • What did you do in that particular situation?
      • How did you feel about the situation at the time you were experiencing it?
      • How do you feel about the situation now?
      • What would you change, if anything?

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