Today@Sam Article

SHSU Literacy Professionals Earn High Distinction

June 12, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins

Sam Houston State University became the sixth institution in the country to receive the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) National Recognition, a seal of approval reserved for colleges and universities that exemplify the best in teacher preparation for literacy professionals. SHSU’s Master of Education in reading and language arts with a reading specialist certification specifically garnered the award.

“We are proud to offer our candidates a high-quality, nationally recognized program that builds and maintains a community of Bearkat literacy leaders who, together, positively impact and engage with literacy learning at all levels,” said Patricia Durham, the graduate program’s coordinator and an associate professor at SHSU.

The master’s program is designed for practicing professionals in the field of literacy and strives to develop reflective practitioners with the knowledge and skills for effective reading and language arts instruction for early childhood through secondary learners.

“It becomes more than just a degree or a set of coursework,” Durham said. “It becomes the identity of a set of colleagues working together to improve all levels of literacy learning. That is something I know our faculty holds true and that is the special spice that we add into our program. We may be fully online, but we are present and engaging. That is what our students value and I hope future students will, as well.”

National Recognition is designed to set institutions of higher learning apart by using high benchmarks to determine outstanding licensure, certificates, and endorsement programs through a meticulous review process.

“It is a process of self-study where they require you to narratively represent the program, how it meets its seven standards for literacy specialists in the nation and how we align our curriculum with that,” Durham said. “We first looked at the objectives for our courses and where they fall on the matrix using their standards.”

The faculty collaborated to build the narrative for each course and how they support the development of a literary or reading specialist. 160 hours of field experience across multiple grades allows them to apply theory and knowledge of the standards, both state and national.

The distinction puts SHSU on a short list with Loyola University (Maryland), McDaniel College, Notre Dame College, Salisbury University and The University of Texas Permian Basin. They will now be invited to move into a second phase of the review process that could potentially lead to ILA National Recognition With Distinction, the top honor in the National Recognition program, which identifies schools that exceed the ILA’s rigorous standards. Universities that have achieved this honor include Grambling State University, University of North Georgia, The University of Texas at San Antonio, and West Virginia University.

“They will dive deeper into our program at the next level and interview faculty, staff and the community partners that we have,” Durham said. “This will continue to highlight and showcase the integrity that we have as a teacher-education program and sustain the reputation that we have as high-quality educators.”

For more information on ILA and its National Recognition program, click here.

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