Date of Award

8-22-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

The main goal of The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 is to hold school districts accountable to close the achievement gap. One way in which the NCLB is ensuring accountability is by requiring school districts to seek better qualified and prepared classroom teachers and well-prepared reading specialists who can serve as coaches or mentors for teachers in the schools. Elementary level reading specialists and their role in the school community has been widely researched however the secondary level lacks clarity in impact on academic success and in articulation of their purpose and partnership with teaching and administrative staff. This research project is centered on better understanding of how secondary level reading specialists negotiate their role while working with content area specialists. The project examines an historical overview of how reading specialists have been implemented into the school environment. It discusses the various roles and responsibilities that are placed on reading specialists by school districts and professional organizations. Literature that details the challenges and the difficulties that reading specialists and content area teachers face in their day-to-day work as well as a closer examination into what literacy looks like in science, math, social studies, and technologies is reviewed.

The role of the reading specialist, as defined by the International Reading Association, states that reading specialists should fulfill the following roles: collaborators, coaches, evaluators, and instructional strategists. Given the limited research with regard to middle and high school reading specialists, and their interactions with content area teachers, a quantitative look at these roles and the extent they work together in classrooms is critical when considering the tasks that reading specialists routinely perform versus the recommendations as presented by the 2006 International Reading Association. For the purposes of this study, four reading specialists responded to an online survey. Through this comprehensive survey the roles of reading specialists were examined along with the experience level and certifications of the survey participants. Conclusions and recommendations complete the thesis which strongly urges continued study and improvement of the reading specialist role in the academic community.

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