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Graduate Studies

Reading Specialist

Prerequisite: Elementary or Secondary teaching certification. Teachers who hold out-of-state teaching credentials should consult with the NWOSU Certification Officer and with the State Department of Education in their state to ensure that they will be certified to teach in their state. This option is a thirty-four hour program.


Student Testimonials


Tabitha Carothers, Alva, OK

"From the Reading Specialist program, I gained not only the skills I will need for my future career goal of being a Reading Specialist but also the skills that benefit my first grade students now. The staff at NWOSU were extremely helpful and pushed me to be the best teacher and student that I could be. I am so glad this was the school and path I chose. Ride, Rangers, Ride!"


Cecely Franz, Alva, OK

“The reading specialist graduate program has provided me with great tools and understanding of reading that I can implement in my classroom as a teacher and a reading specialist. The courses include many real-life opportunities to learn and practice the content. I feel that the teachers have a great wealth of knowledge in the area of reading, which enables them to make the information relevant and applicable.”

Curriculum Outline

Require core subjects (10 hours)

  • EDUC 5010 Graduate Study Seminar
  • Research: EDUC 5933 Classroom Reseach & Institutional Effectiveness (must be taken within the first nine hours of coursework)
  • Foundation: EDUC 5203 Educational Practices
  • Psychology: EDUC 5212 Psychology of Teaching
  • Diversity: EDUC 5822 Multicultural Education

Related area of study: Reading Specialist (24 hours)

Reading Courses (18 hours)

  • EDUC 5403 Advanced Course in Developmental Reading - Primary
  • EDUC 5413 Advanced Course in Developmental Reading - Intermediate/Secondary
  • EDUC 5433 Diagnostic and Correction Techniques of Reading
  • EDUC 5453 Clinical Procedures in Reading
  • EDUC 5532 Practicum in Remediation of Learning Problems I +
  • EDUC 5542 Practicum in Remediation of Learning Problems II +
  • EDUC 5500 Reading Practicum +

Other Courses

  • EDUC 5283 Literacy Assessment
  • EDUC 5503 Curricular and Supervisory Problems in Reading

*Note: On February 24, 2011, the NWOSU Teacher Education Committee voted to make successful completion (i.e. a passing score) of the Oklahoma Subject Area Test for certification a requirement for program completion in the Reading Specialist graduate program.

+Note: M.Ed. candidates may take only one other course with practicum/internship. M.Ed. candidates may also take only one course after completion of practicum/internship with permission of their graduate advisory committee chair. Any exceptions to these policies must by approved by each student's graduate advisory committee.

Portfolio and Action Research Project

In lieu of the capstone project, thesis, or the written comprehensive and oral follow-up examinations, the M.Ed. student will submit and defend an Action Research Project and will maintain a Graduate Candidate File (GCF) in ALCA. M.Ed. program options require three checkpoints: Milestone 1, Milestone 2, and Milestone 3. Below are procedures and details for M.Ed. candidates:

Required during first semster of enrollment. M.Ed. students will complete the course requirements for EDUC 5010 Graduate Study Seminar, will establish an ALCA account, and will contact graduate advisory committee members once theya re assigned. Also during the first semester, M.Ed. students will complete Mileston 1 by meeting with the graduate advisory committee or its chair, by completing the plan of study and graduate advisory committee forms, by having the appropriate credentials and required paperwork submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies (FA #212), by putting in appropriate materials to the Graduate Candidate File in ALCA, and by going over program expectations with the graduate advisory committee. All of theses elements are required before further enrollment in graduate courses are allowed.

Required three (3) semesters before graduation. M.Ed. students will complete EDUC 5933 Classroom Research & Institutional Effectiveness with a passing grade and will submit the final research proposal and instructor's rubric with comments to the graduate advisory committee chair, who will then evaluate the course instructor's comments and the student's proposal to determine readiness for Milestone 2. To complete Milestone 2, the student will schedule a meeting with his/her graduate advisory committee and will present the Action Research Proposal to committee members. The student will also continue to put in appropriate materials to the Graduate Candidate File in ALCA. All of these elements are required before further enrollment in graduate courses are allowed. At this point, students should receive a letter of candidacy from the Office of Graduate Studies.

Required two (2) semesters before graduation. M.Ed. candidates will conduct the Action Research Project over two consecutive academic semesters and will continue to add appropriate materials to the Graduate Candidate File in ALCA.

Required the semester of graduation. M.Ed. candidates will complete Milestone 3 by presenting the completed Action Research Project to the graduate advisory committee and selected stakeholders, by adding any additional materials to complete the Graduate Candidate File in ALCA, and by completing all exit documents in order to graduate.


What is Action Research?

Action research seeks transformative change through the simultaneous process of taking action and doing research, which are linked together by critical reflection. Action research practitioners reflect upon the consequences of their own questions, beliefs, assumptions, and practices with the goal of understanding, developing, and improving social practices. This action is simultaneously directed towards self-change and towards restructuring the organization or institution within which the practitioner works.

The nature of action research places the researcher in the middle of the inquiry and not on the outside as an observer and/or experimenter. Action researchers do not claim ‘neutrality’ but rather account for their position in the action and inquiry. A strength of action research is that the researcher studies what she or he does in concert with others. Therefore, the knowledge created through action research is inevitably dialogical in nature, and is thus always a negotiated and cocreated knowledge. This knowledge is not inert, but serves to improve the quality of life by engaging participants in a quest for deeper understandings that lead to improvement.

Action researchers are often guided by questions of this kind, ‘How do I improve my practice?’ Action research takes time, energy, commitment, and courage because it is about changing oneself, which means changing one’s thinking, and recognizing that, once changed, there is no going back. However, action researchers are also engaged in a process of authentic collaboration with participants who seek to improve their practices. The focus is on the actors (participants) within their local social contexts. These participants are often coresearchers (but not always). The four key processes of an action research cycle include planning, implementing the plan, gathering and analyzing data as the plan is implemented, and reflecting on these results. The choice of specific data collection and analysis methods (practices) occurs in alignment with the action researcher’s personal and professional epistemological and ontological belief systems, while also reflecting the discourses of the larger organization and society within which the action research is being conducted. Further, the choice of research methods in action research is dependent upon the question, problem, dilemma or dissonance to be examined, and the nature of the practice situation. The cycles of action research represent iterative problem solving linked by reflection. Critical reflection on action and reflexive writing are key and central processes of action research.

Making decisions about involvement in action research carries certain risks. It involves interrogating one’s thinking and deciding actively to change established self-perceptions and personal and professional habits to move into the future, recognizing that action researchers are responsible for their decisions and the consequences of these decisions. Specific action research practices are informed by researchers’ values that carry hope for the future including the procedural principle of democracy and insights from the most advanced social theories of the day.

The action researcher, like all researchers, is expected to share research findings as part of the process of knowledge creation. Action researchers also expect to have those findings scrutinized by other professionals, including professionals whose knowledge and belief systems may vary markedly from those of the action researchers.

Rowell, L. Polush, E. Riel, M, & Bruewer, A. (2015) Action researchers’ perspectives about the distinguishing characteristics of action research: a Delphi and learning circles mixedmethods study. Access online at http://www.tandfonline.com/ doi/abs/10.1080/09650792.2014.990987#.VPlW0IH-Oxw

Student Learning Outcomes


SLO 1 - STANDARD: FOUNDATIONAL KNOWLEDGE. Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach Candidates understand the theoretical and evidence-based foundations of reading and writing processes and instruction. 

1.1. Understand major theories and empirical research that describe the cognitive, linguistic, motivational, and sociocultural foundations of reading and writing development, processes, and components, including word recognition, language comprehension, strategic knowledge, and reading–writing connections.

1.2. Understand the historically shared knowledge of the profession and changes over time in the perceptions of reading and writing development, processes, and components.

1.3. Understand the role of professional judgment and practical knowledge for improving all students’ reading development and achievement.

SLO 2 - STANDARD: CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION. Candidates use instructional approaches, materials, and an integrated, comprehensive, balanced curriculum to support student learning in reading and writing.

2.1. Use foundational knowledge to design or implement an integrated, comprehensive, and balanced curriculum. [Reading specialists may have responsibilities for teaching students who struggle with learning to read and must also be able to support teachers in their efforts to provide effective instruction for all students.]

2.2. Use appropriate and varied instructional approaches, including those that develop word recognition, language comprehension, strategic knowledge, and reading–writing connections.

2.3. Use a wide range of texts (e.g., narrative, expository, and poetry) from traditional print, digital, and online resources.

SLO 3 - STANDARD: ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION. Candidates use a variety of assessment tools and practices to plan and evaluate effective reading and writing instruction.

3.1. Understand types of assessments and their purposes, strengths, and limitations.

3.2. Select, develop, administer, and interpret assessments, both traditional print and electronic, for specific purposes. [Reading specialists may have responsibilities for teaching students who struggle with learning to read and must also be able to support teachers in their efforts to provide effective instruction for all students.]

3.3. Use assessment information to plan and evaluate instruction.

3.4. Communicate assessment results and implications to a variety of audiences. 

SLO 4 - STANDARD: DIVERSITY. Candidates create and engage their students in literacy practices that develop awareness, understanding, respect, and a valuing of differences in our society.

4.1. Recognize, understand, and value the forms of diversity that exist in society and their importance in learning to read and write. [Reading specialists may have responsibilities for teaching students who struggle with learning to read and must also be able to support teachers in their efforts to provide effective instruction for all students.]

4.2. Use a literacy curriculum and engage in instructional practices that positively impact students’ knowledge, beliefs, and engagement with the features of diversity.

4.3. Develop and implement strategies to advocate for equity.

SLO 5 - STANDARD: LITERATE ENVIRONMENT. Candidates create a literate environment that fosters reading and writing by integrating foundational knowledge, instructional practices, approaches and methods, curriculum materials, and the appropriate use of assessments.

5.1. Design the physical environment to optimize students’ use of traditional print, digital, and online resources in reading and writing instruction.

5.2. Design a social environment that is low risk and includes choice, motivation, and scaffolded support to optimize students’ opportunities for learning to read and write. [Reading specialists may have responsibilities for teaching students who struggle with learning to read and must also be able to support teachers in their efforts to provide effective instruction for all students.]

5.3. Use routines to support reading and writing instruction (e.g., time allocation, transitions from one activity to another; discussions, and peer feedback).

5.4. Use a variety of classroom configurations (i.e., whole class, small group, and individual) to differentiate instruction.

SLO 6 - STANDARD: PROFESSIONAL LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP. Candidates recognize the importance of, demonstrate, and facilitate professional learning and leadership as a career-long effort and responsibility.

6.1. Demonstrate foundational knowledge of adult learning theories and related research about organizational change, professional development, and school culture.

6.2. Display positive dispositions related to their own reading and writing and the teaching of reading and writing, and pursue the development of individual professional knowledge and behaviors. [This element deals with positive attitudes not only with colleagues but also with community members, parents and guardians, and so forth.]

6.3. Participate in, design, facilitate, lead, and evaluate effective and differentiated professional development programs.

6.4. Understand and influence local, state, or national policy decisions.

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