STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 05/09/2016

Vote of Confidence for Reading Specialist Program

The International Dyslexia Association’s accreditation of Gordon’s master’s degree programs for teachers seeking certification as reading specialists is proving beneficial to the program’s graduates—and their young students, too. In some school districts, the scientifically research-based training that Gordon emphasizes in its Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Reading is becoming a must-have for new hires.

“IDA accreditation recognizes that Gordon’s research-based program capitalizes on the teaching of what all teachers need to know to help their students be successful readers. The graduate program is excited to be with only 17 colleges and universities in the country who have earned this prestigious honor,” Director of Graduate Education Dr. Janet Arndt says. 

When Eileen Catizone took a job as a reading teacher while still a graduate student at Gordon, “most of my colleagues were not trained to that depth of reading instruction and contested the instruction I was delivering,” she recalls—but she was able to move many of her students to benchmark levels of reading. “Gordon College taught me how to assess a student’s individual needs, and design specific interventions unique for that student,” she says. Upon receiving her master’s degree in 2015 she shifted to a different district that embraces the approach she learned at Gordon. This winter, a colleague from her former district offered to buy Catizone dinner if she’d show her some of the reading intervention strategies she’d learned at Gordon.

Gordon’s reading specialist program prepares teachers of reading to use scientifically based teaching strategies that focus on five major components of reading. Kelly Lestage, who also completed the program last year, reports that the North Shore district where she teaches students with reading disabilities increasingly opts for specialists certified in the Orton-Gillingham approach that Gordon teaches, the gold-standard for teaching children with dyslexia and other reading struggles. While dyslexia makes reading a lifelong challenge, extensive individualized teaching that focuses on an explicit, multisensory approach enables students to make progress (and thereby also increases their self-esteem). Lestage says that working for 100 hours with struggling readers during her practicum in her last year of the graduate program, using research-based strategies she learned at Gordon, made her feel “very prepared to attack most situations.”

The nonprofit IDA awarded accreditation to Gordon College’s reading specialist program in 2014 after a rigorous accreditation process, recognizing it as a teacher preparation program that offers research-supported instruction in how best to teach dyslexic students, other struggling readers, and the general student population. (If the IDA maintains its past schedule, another round of accreditations will take place this spring.) The IDA spotlighted Gordon’s teacher preparation program in its October 2015 national newsletter.