Standards 2010: Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach

Reading Specialists/Literacy Coaches are professionals whose goal is to improve reading achievement in their assigned school or district positions. Their responsibilities and titles often differ based on the context in which they work, and their teaching and educational experiences. Their responsibilities may include teaching, coaching, and leading school reading programs. Reading Specialists/Literacy Coaches may also serve as a resource in reading and writing for educational support personnel, administrators, teachers, and the community, provide professional development based on historical and current literature and research, work collaboratively with other professionals to build and implement reading programs for individuals and groups of students, and serve as advocates for students who struggle with reading. Many of these professionals have a specific focus that further defines their duties, such as serving as a teacher for students experiencing reading difficulties, as a reading or literacy coach, as a coordinator of reading and writing programs at the school or district level, or in several combinations of these roles. Explanations for these roles follow:

  • The Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach may have primary responsibility for working with students who struggle with reading and may provide intensive, supplemental instruction to students who struggle with reading at all levels in pre-K–12. Such instruction may be provided either within or outside the students’ classrooms. At times, these specialists may provide literacy intervention instruction designed to meet the specific needs of students, or instruction that enables them to meet the requirements of the classroom reading program, or both.
  • This specialist may have primary responsibility for supporting teacher learning. These professionals, often known as literacy or reading coaches, provide coaching and other professional development support that enables teachers to think reflectively about improving student learning and implementing various instructional programs and practices. Often, they provide essential leadership for the school’s entire literacy program by helping and creating long-term staff development that supports both the development and implementation of a literacy program over months and years. Such work requires these specialists to work with individuals and groups of teachers (e.g., working with grade-level teams and leading study groups).
  • These specialists may have primary responsibility for developing, leading, or evaluating the school or district pre-K–12 reading and writing program. These professionals may assume some of the same responsibilities as the specialists who work primarily with teachers but have additional responsibilities that require them to work with systemic change at the school and district levels. These individuals need to have experiences that enable them to work effectively as coordinators and develop and lead effective professional development programs. As coordinators, they may work with special educators, psychologists, and various teachers to develop plans for meeting the needs of all students in the school (e.g., grouping arrangements, assessments, and instructional approaches).

For certification, a Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach Candidate must have the following:

  • A valid teaching certificate
  • Previous teaching experience
  • A master’s degree with a concentration in reading and writing education
  • Program experiences that build knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to working with students, supporting or coaching teachers, and leading the school reading program
  • Typically, the equivalent of 21–27 graduate semester hours in reading, language arts, and related courses: The program must include a supervised practicum experience, typically the equivalent of 6 semester hours.

The supervised practicum experience should require working with students who struggle with reading, as well as collaborative and coaching experiences with teachers. Note: It is expected that candidates completing the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach program will be at a novice or entry level of expertise (see Issues in Reading Education).

Note: The role of the Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach remains as one role because IRA expects to see evidence of both in this candidate: reading specialist and literacy coach.

Matrix of Professional Role by Standards

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