By Kathleen M. Oliverio, Ed.D, Reading Program Coordinator
A: Notre Dame College offers strong programs in teacher education. In addition, we have a mission of serving underserved populations of college-capable students, such as those with learning disabilities. Having IDA review our dyslexia coursework seemed natural and appropriate.
IDA accredited the Reading Endorsement Program at the graduate level. This program appeals to teachers with varied job requirements. Some are interested in adding the Reading Endorsement to their current teaching license. Others are interested in a program that can result in a Master’s Degree with a minor in reading along with the Reading Endorsement. Adding a dyslexia component to the Reading Endorsement curriculum was a logical way to support teachers who work with struggling readers.
Q: How was the experience of preparing for and participating in the review?
A: The preparation process was arduous, but the results are more than worth the effort. We spent a lot of time on alignment of syllabi, supplemental readings, assignments, textbooks, quizzes, and activities. Additional assignments were created to meet both the IDA and Reading Endorsement standards for Ohio. The whole process took about six months to complete. An added benefit was that this process provided the impetus to revamp the Reading Endorsement Program to make it even more valuable to our students. The end result puts us in a better position to serve our education students and the students they will teach. As a result of the IDA review process, our professional education program is now stronger and more responsive to teachers who want to increase their knowledge and ability to recognize and teach students with dyslexia.
Q: What does IDA Recognition (now Accreditation) mean to your university?
A: We are proud to be one of the four colleges and universities in Ohio with IDA accreditation. We view this accreditation as a gauge of the quality of our division of education. We believe that IDA accreditation puts us in a leadership role for serving students with special needs by providing expert teachers to educate them.
Q: Describe some of the innovative ideas you have implemented to give students a richer practicum experience.
A: Due to the fact that the program is online, we had to come up with a way for instructors to work one-on-one with students. As a result, students videotape teaching lessons for the instructor to review. Individualized feedback is provided through a tele-conference. To better meet the demands of the course, it was extended to fifteen weeks instead of the regular eight weeks for our typical online courses to give teachers more instructional time with their students.
Throughout all of the courses in the program, lessons are videotaped so that the instructor can monitor performance of course participants as they teach the major areas of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, syntax, semantics, comprehension, and writing. By the time course participants are ready for the practicum course, they have taught numerous lessons with feedback from not only the instructor but other students in the class as well. They have also received instruction in all of the elements included in the IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards.
Q: How has your program leveraged outside partnerships to increase students’ learning experience?
A: Notre Dame College works collaboratively with schools in the greater Cleveland area and surrounding districts. To provide a range of field experiences for our students, we partner with public and private schools in urban, suburban, and rural settings.
Since becoming accredited by IDA, we are actively promoting the program on our college website; in the fall/winter issue of the College Magazine, Notre Dame Today; in monthly newsletters sent by our president to trustees of the college; and other communications we send to alumni, media, local business and community leaders, and supporters of and potential donors to the college.
Calls are starting to come in from people who are becoming aware of IDA and its accreditation of the College. I look forward to more people hearing about the program and future collaboration.
Kathleen M. Oliverio, Ed.D., is assistant professor of education and coordinator of the reading program at Notre Dame College.
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