The Reading Endorsement (PSC rule 505-3-75) states, “An individual with the Reading In-Field Endorsement is in-field to teach reading to any student at the grade-levels and fields of their base certificate.
Quality teacher preparation programs equip their candidates with strong subject matter knowledge and provide evidence that they can perform well in the classroom (NCATE Newsletter, 2004). In fact Arthur Wise of NCATE maintains that, “Children deserve the assurances that their teacher is competent, caring, and qualified” (2004). Consistent with this premise, the Northeast Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency (NEGA RESA) is committed to preparing its candidates with the knowledge and skills to become effective teachers of reading. The endorsement program that Northeast Georgia RESA offers was developed with educators at the college and university level.
The Report of the National Reading Panel (NRP) serves as a foundation for examining scientific-based research in reading. It analyzes research in five major areas of reading including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. While this report offers a guide for literacy programs, the NEGA RESA staff and system-wide coordinators recognize the need for a reading endorsement program that addresses the needs of learners more comprehensively. After examining the International Reading Association (IRA) Standards for Reading Professionals, Georgia Standards for English/Language Arts K-12, and the Georgia Professional Standards, the collaborators decided that a reading endorsement for teachers and students in grades P-12 also needed to address writing and early instruction in nonfiction text structures. Other literacy acquisition skills such as listening, speaking, and visualizing are thoroughly integrated into all aspects of the reading endorsement.
The interrelationship between reading and writing is an important aspect of the reading endorsement, particularly in the various content areas for students at every grade level. Its inclusion is consistent with current state and national standards, though not addressed in depth by the NRP. Literacy programs that support reading and writing help students to explore ideas, clarify meaning, and construct knowledge (Vacca & Vacca, 2002; Jacobs, 2002). “When writing and reading are taught in tandem, the union influences content learning in ways not possible when students read without writing or write without reading” (p. 246).
Historically, the uses of expository texts have been reserved for children who have already “learned to read” and are now ready to “read to learn.” This mindset created generations of students who struggled to comprehend content area textbooks as they moved beyond the primary grades (Allington, 1998; Robb,2003). A major problem with this mindset is that too many students were overwhelmed with learning to read textbooks that were written well above their grade level, while trying to acquire strategies for understanding text structure that were extremely different from the fiction used primarily in their “learning to read” years. Reeves’ extensive research with standards in education revealed that direct instruction in expository text writing increased student performance across reading and subject areas (2000). The Northeast Georgia RESA reading endorsement program proposes instruction in comprehending expository text structures beginning in the primary years rather than waiting until upper elementary years.
One of the key requirements of the Georgia Standards for Reading is that all students must be able to comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. By the time they graduate, students must be able to read and comprehend independently and proficiently the kinds of complex texts commonly found in college and careers. In brief, while reading demands in college, workforce training programs, and life in general have held steady or increased over the last half century, K–12 texts have actually declined in sophistication, and relatively little attention has been paid to students’ abilities to read complex texts independently. These conditions have left a serious gap between many students’ reading abilities and the reading requirements they will face after graduation.
Based on the aforementioned research, national and state standards, and the needs of the area school systems, the reading endorsement program consists of three courses that extend over one academic year for a total of 150 contact hours and 15 Professional Learning Units (PLUs). All candidates are required to complete a minimum of 50 Clinical Practicum/Field Experience hours designed to help them apply and reflect on knowledge learned in the courses. The three courses that comprise The Reading Endorsement Program, are designed to address the Georgia Program Content Standards (Rule 505-3.-75) as well as the Georgia Professional Standards Commission requirements. These International Reading Association and Georgia Program Content (505.3.-75) Standards are listed below.
International Reading Association and Georgia Program Content(505.3-.75) Standards
Standard 1: Foundational Knowledge
Candidates understand the theoretical and evidence-based foundations of reading and writing processes and instruction.
Standard 2: Curriculum and Instruction
Candidates use instructional approaches, materials, and an integrated, comprehensive, balanced curriculum to support student learning in reading and writing.
Standard 3: Assessment and Evaluation
Candidates use a variety of assessment tools and practices to plan and evaluate effective reading and writing instruction.
Standard 4: Diversity
Candidates create and engage their students in literacy practices that develop awareness, understanding, respect, and a valuing of differences in our society.
Standard 5: 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.
Standard 6: Professional Learning and Leadership
Candidates recognize the importance of, demonstrate, and facilitate professional learning and leadership as a career-long effort and responsibility.
The three courses were carefully crafted to meet the ever-changing needs of learners in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. The content and requirements are differentiated for candidates and their students at various grade levels for literacy instruction in P-12 classrooms.
The Reading Endorsement Program is composed of the following courses:
|Foundations of Reading||50|
|Teaching Reading and Writing in the Content Areas||50|
|Reading Assessment, Diagnosis, and Evaluation||50|