Reading & Language Development/International Dyslexia Association & International Literacy Association Accredited

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Director’s Welcome

The Reading and Language Development (RLD) Program offers candidates a rich combination of hands-on coursework and supervised clinical assessment and intervention experiences dedicated helping them translate the science of reading into artful — and impactful — practice. All coursework is aligned with the standards of both the International Literacy Association (ILA) and the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and program models are designed for the working professional.

A variety of innovative degree, certification, and certificate programs are available to both certified and non-certified professionals who are committed to positively impacting students’ literacy outcomes. Candidates enrolled in one of our master (MA) or sixth year certificate (SYC) programs are afforded the opportunity to earn multiple certifications while meeting their degree requirements, including a Wilson Reading Level I Certification and a Connecticut #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Consultant Certification.

Eligible candidates who are interested in advancing their professional credentials, but are not seeking an advanced degree, may instead opt to earn a standalone Wilson Reading Level I Certification as part of the RLD Program’s Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate, or a Connecticut #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Consultant Certification.

To learn more about how our unique program options can help you to reach your personal and professional goals, please email me today!

Jule McCombes-Tolis, PhD
Associate Professor and Program Director
Reading and Language Development
jmccombes-tolis@fairfield.edu

Degree and Certificate Options

The Reading and Language Development program offers degree and certificate options for candidates who are already certified educators and candidates who are new to the field of reading education.

For candidates interested in pursuing a degree, our goal is to provide you with the opportunity to earn multiple credentials while meeting your degree requirements. As such, all degree candidates, certified and non-certified, are afforded the opportunity to earn a Wilson Reading Level I Certification as part of their degree. In addition, candidates that hold an active Connecticut certification are also eligible to complete coursework required for the #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Consultant certification. These additional credentials are incorporated into candidates’ required credits, and do not add additional credits to candidates’ programs of studies.

Candidates, both certified and non-certified, who are interested in earning a professional graduate credential as a Dyslexia Interventionist, but who are not interested in a graduate degree, are encouraged to explore our online Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate program, leading to Wilson Reading Level I Certification.

Options For Non-Certified Professionals

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Options For Non-Certified Professionals

The Reading and Language Development Program offers non-certified professionals who are committed to serving the developmental and remedial reading needs of students in grades 1-12 with several degree and certification options.

Non-certified professionals pursuing our programs of study often include independent, parochial, and private school educators, para-educators, tutors, private practice clinicians, and those who wish to be employed in one of these capacities.

Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate: Wilson Reading Level I Certification (Online) 10 Credits
Online
2 Semesters/PT (F,S OR S, Su)
MA in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts 30 Credits
5 Semesters/PT (F,S OR S, Su)
MA in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts with Wilson Reading Level I Certification 31 Credits
Hybrid
5 Semesters/PT (F,S OR S, Su)
SYC in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts 36 Credits
5 Semesters/PT (F,S OR S, Su)
SYC in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts with Wilson Reading Level 1 Certification 36 Credits
Hybrid
5 Semesters/PT (F,S OR S, Su)

Options For Certified Professionals

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Options For Certified Professionals

Professionals holding an active Connecticut certification are eligible to engage in any degree or certification option offered by the Reading and Language Development Program, including those options listed below, which are reserved exclusively for certified professionals.

Certified professionals pursuing our programs of study typically include public school educators and administrators who wish to advance their knowledge and skill or who wish to transition into a new career as a school, district, or state-level reading specialist, reading coach, curriculum specialist, or consultant.

#102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Specialist Certification, Grades 1-12 21 Credits
3 Semesters/PT (F, S, Su)
MA in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts with #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Specialist Certification, Grades 1-12 30 Credits
5 Semesters/PT (F, S, Su, F, S)
MA in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts with #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Specialist Certification, Grades 1-12 and Wilson Reading Level I Certification 31 Credits
5 Semesters/PT (F, S, Su, F, S)
SYC in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts with #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Specialist Certification, Grades 1-12 36 Credits
6 Semesters/PT (F, S, Su, F, S, Su)
SYC in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts with #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Specialist Certification, Grades 1-12 and Wilson Reading Level I Certification 36 Credits
Hybrid
6 Semesters/PT (F, S, Su, F, S, Su)

Options for Graduate Candidates Enrolled in the Special Education Sixth Year Certificate Program

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Options for Graduate Candidates Enrolled in the Special Education Sixth Year Certificate Program

Graduate candidates enrolled in the Special Education Sixth Year Certificate (SYC) Program are eligible to complete SYC degree electives in Reading and Language Development in order to earn a Wilson Reading Level I Certification and/or a #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Specialist Certification.

If you are a graduate Special Education candidate enrolled in a SYC program and are interested in pursuing this unique option, please email Drs. Alyson Martin and Jule McCombes-Tolis to schedule a collaborative advisement appointment.

Certification Options

Candidates have the opportunity to earn multiple certifications as part of their degree program or may opt to earn stand-alone certifications.

Applicants who hold an active Connecticut certification may enter into program tracks leading to the CT #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Consultant certification, with optional Wilson Reading Level I Certification. If your initial Connecticut certification is pending, an advisor will plan a program of study designed to enable you to pursue the #102 certification once your initial certification is in hand.

Applicants who do not hold, or who are not eligible for a Connecticut certification, may earn a Wilson Reading Level I Certification through the online Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate program.

Wilson Reading Level I Certification

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Wilson Reading Level I Certification

The Online Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate is designed to prepare professionals to remediate the deficient reading and spelling profiles of students in grades 4-12, including students with identifications of dyslexia – a specific type of learning disability that accounts for the largest population of school-aged students with disabilities.

This 10-credit, fully online certificate program may be completed as a stand-alone certificate or as part of a candidate’s training in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts (all tracks) and in Special Education (sixth-year track). This certificate program is in compliance with national accreditation standards for reading, and all coursework has been aligned with the standards of both the International Literacy Association (ILA) and the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).

Through this online certificate program, candidates learn how to implement a multisensory structured language reading program, the Wilson Reading System® (WRS), for the purpose of remediating the word level (accuracy and fluency) reading and spelling deficits of students.

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Connecticut #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Consultant Certification

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Connecticut #102: Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Consultant Certification

Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts Consultants primarily work with students - in one-on-one or small group settings - who are not meeting grade level reading expectations. These students may have disabilities that impact their reading achievement, including dyslexia.
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Curriculum

The Reading and Language Development program offers candidates the opportunity to engage coursework through a combination of in-person and on-line formats. Regardless of delivery method, coursework is delivered in a systematic, explicit manner that reflects a gradual release model of instruction.

Program coursework is aligned with the standards of the International Literacy Association (ILA), the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), and the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC).

The Reading and Language Development Program prepares candidates to meet the following outcomes, which are aligned with the standards of the above-referenced organizations:

  • 1.1 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of the component structures of language, their affiliated key developmental milestones, and how each impact reading and writing acquisition, to include: phonology; orthography; syntax; morphology; semantics; and, the organization of spoken and written discourse.
  • 1.2 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of the types of processing that impact reading and writing development, to include: phonological processing; orthographic processing; semantic processing; syntactic processing; and, discourse-level processing.
  • 1.3 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of empirical research findings concerning the acquisition of essential foundational reading and writing skills, for typical and atypical readers.
  • 1.4 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of how reading and writing acquisition is impacted by cognitive, linguistic, social-emotional factors.
  • 1.5 Candidates demonstrates knowledge of empirically-supported key developmental milestones for reading and writing, with consideration for both age and grade-level expectations.
  • 1.6 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of how students’ development in any one essential component of reading or writing can impact others, positively and/or negatively.
  • 2.1 Candidates effectively apply foundational knowledge to evaluate, critique, and select, evidence-based core, supplemental, and/or intervention reading and writing curricula.
  • 2.2 Candidates effectively apply foundational knowledge to adapt and/or design core, supplemental, and/or intervention reading and writing curricula to accommodate the needs of students with diverse cognitive, linguistic, sociocultural, and behavioral profiles.
  • 2.3 Candidates effectively apply foundational knowledge to adapt and/or design core, supplemental, and/or intervention reading and writing curricula to reflect the principles of Structured Literacy: explicit, systematic, cumulative, teacher-directed instruction.
  • 2.4 Candidates effectively apply foundational knowledge to select or develop an instructional scope and sequence, informed by best-practice principles, to guide decoding, spelling, and writing instruction.
  • 2.5 Candidates effectively apply foundational knowledge to evaluate, select and/or develop decodable texts to provide students who are learning to read with the opportunity to apply taught phonics concepts in context.
  • 2.6 Candidates effectively apply foundational knowledge to evaluate and select narrative and expository texts that meet the literacy needs of developing and established readers.
  • 3.1 Candidates demonstrate the ability to deliver reading and writing instruction according to a systematic, explicit gradual release model, to include meaningful interactions with language and the provision of immediate corrective feedback.
  • 3.2 Candidates demonstrate the ability to implement routines that reflect the principles of Structured Literacy to develop students’ skills in the essential components of reading and writing.
  • 3.3 Candidates demonstrate the ability to effectively implement Structured Literacy routines for teaching the six syllable types and morphology (prefixes, suffixes, roots, and combining forms) in order to develop students’ single and multi-syllable regular word reading and spelling skills, vocabulary skills, and text comprehension.
  • 3.4 Candidates demonstrate the ability to effectively implement instructional activities, strategies and routines to advance students’ orthographic knowledge, to include both Mental Graphemic Representations (MGRs) and orthographic pattern knowledge.
  • 3.5 Candidates demonstrate the ability to deliver direct instruction in sentence combining techniques/writing complex sentences to support text comprehension for students with syntactic deficits.
  • 3.6 Candidates demonstrate the ability to effectively teach irregular words or temporary sight words using a neurological impress method such as the Fernald Technique.
  • 4.1 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of the essential principles of tests and measurement (e.g. validity, reliability, generalizability, strengths/limitations with consideration for use with diverse student populations, etc.), with consideration for the application to a wide range of reading and writing assessments and contexts.
  • 4.2 Candidates demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge of the essential principles of tests and measurement to design, adapt, or select appropriate reading and writing assessments to address specific learning goals and individual differences, and to minimize sources of bias.
  • 4.3 Candidates demonstrate the ability to administer a wide range of reading and writing screening, progress monitoring, informal diagnostic; and, as appropriate, formal diagnostic measures for a variety of intended purposes.
  • 4.4 Candidates demonstrate a commitment to the ethical use of various assessments and assessment data to identify learner strengths and needs.
  • 4.5 Candidates demonstrate the ability to analyze reading and writing assessment data, for individuals and groups, in order to: (a) identify students at risk for reading and writing difficulty, including those students who are at risk for dyslexia; (b) identify and prioritize the instructional needs of individuals and groups; (c) inform the selection and/or development of reading and writing curricula; (d) inform the selection of essential Structured Literacy routines for use during reading and writing instruction; and, (e) inform the establishment of flexible instructional groups.
  • 4.6 Candidates demonstrate the ability to organize, present, and explain assessment results, using both written and oral communication, to a variety of stakeholders, including students, administrators, teachers, other educators, and parents/guardians.
  • 5.1 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of second language acquisition processes and how to apply the principles and practices of Structured Literacy to support language, reading, and writing acquisition for second language learners.
  • 5.2 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of dyslexia, including: (a) definition of dyslexia: International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and their state; (b) signs, symptoms, and screening indicators; (c) federal and state laws pertaining to specific learning disability (including dyslexia) identification, diagnosis, instruction; and, (d) how dyslexia presents in non-native speakers of
  • 5.3 Candidates attends to learners’ personal, family and community experiences and cultural norms when designing and implementing reading and writing lessons.
  • 5.4 Candidates demonstrate the ability to adapt reading and writing instruction, and assignments, for students with deficits in the areas of processing, working memory, attention, and executive function.
  • 5.5 Candidates effectively integrate a variety of digital, adaptive, and assistive technologies into their reading and writing instruction in order to promote: (a) skill acquisition and reinforcement of skills; (b) students’ access to the curriculum; (c) and, students’ ability to navigate and engage a variety of settings safely and with independence.
  • 5.6 Candidates demonstrate a commitment to working with all learners, colleagues, families and communities to establish positive, inclusive, and supportive learning environments.
  • 6.1 Candidates understand the professional, ethical, and legal expectations ascribed to them in relation to serving students educational needs, with an emphasis on reading and writing development.
  • 6.2 Candidates engage professional learning experiences to deepen their understanding of evidence-based reading and writing practices, with consideration for students’ cultural, ethnic, gender, and learning differences, in order to build stronger relationships with, and create more relevant learning experiences for, their students.
  • 6.3 Candidates belong to professional reading and writing organizations and are critical consumers of reading and writing research, policy, and practice.
  • 6.4 Candidates demonstrate the ability to use technological tools and a variety of communication strategies to build local and global learning communities that engage learners, families, and colleagues.
  • 6.5 Candidates seek appropriate opportunities to model effective reading and writing practices for colleagues, to lead professional learning activities on topics associated with reading and writing; and, to serve in other literacy leadership roles.
  • 6.6 Candidates demonstrate a respect for families’ beliefs, norms, and expectations related to education and seek out/create opportunities to work collaboratively with learners and families to set and meet challenging achievement goals, with particular consideration for reading and writing.

Community Clinics

Reading and Language Development candidates engage in several course-embedded, faculty supervised community clinics throughout the academic year. Here, candidates have the opportunity to apply assessment and intervention skills they are developing in coursework to directly serve the needs of children and families referred for clinic participation.

Families, organizations, and school districts who are interested in referring a student for participation in one of our community clinics are encouraged to view information about clinic offerings below.

District partners that host off-site program cohorts of 16 or more candidates benefit from being able to offer these clinics in their own districts. If you are a district administrator and are interested in partnering with Fairfield University’s RLD Program in order to meet the training needs of your educators and interventionists, please contact program  Director Dr. Jule McCombes-Tolis.

Healthy Literacy Screening Clinic

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Healthy Literacy Screening Clinic

Overview To identify the specific grade-level reading targets that: (a) have been mastered; (b) require additional supplemental practice and review; (c) must be directly taught/remediated.

Reports are useful in helping to develop an individualized, prioritized intervention plan.
Dates Fall (Applications are due by the second Friday in September)
  • One Saturday assessment session (9 - 10:30 a.m.)
Spring (Applications are due by the second Friday in January)
  • One Saturday assessment session (9 - 10:30 a.m.)
Eligibility Students in grades 1-6
Application Application Form (PDF)
Contact GA-RLD@fairfield.edu

You will hear from the RLD Program Graduate Assistant who manages the clinic application and selection process, including communication with families.

Comprehensive Diagnostic Reading Clinic

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Comprehensive Diagnostic Reading Clinic

Overview To provide a differential diagnosis of a student’s reading difficulties, including whether or not the student is a student with dyslexia.

Reports are useful in helping to determine eligibility for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and in helping to develop and/or refine eligible students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
Dates Spring (Applications are due by the second Friday in January)
  • Two Saturday assessment sessions (9 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
  • One Saturday parent conference session (10 – 11 a.m.)
Eligibility Students in grades 1 - 12

Primary language: English

Existing disabilities may include: LD; OHI
Application Application Form (PDF)
Contact GA-RLD@fairfield.edu

You will hear from the RLD Program Graduate Assistant who manages the clinic application and selection process, including communication with families.

Structured Literacy Reading Intervention Clinic

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Structured Literacy Reading Intervention Clinic

Overview To provide eligible students with a profile characteristic of, or a diagnosis of, dyslexia with access to individualized one-on-one diagnostic-prescriptive reading interventions that reflect the principles and practices of Structured Literacy.
Dates July - first week August (Applications due by the second Friday in May)

5 weeks
Days/Times Options typically include:
  • Two days/week: T/R 9 - 11:30 a.m. (8 - 10 sessions)
  • Two days/week: T/R 1 - 3:30 p.m. (8 - 10 sessions)
  • Four days/week: M/T/W/R 9 - 11:30 a.m. (18 - 20 sessions)
  • Four days/week: M/T/W/R 1 - 3:30 p.m. (18 - 20 sessions)
Eligibility Students in grades 1-12

Primary language: English

Existing disabilities may include: LD; OHI

Needs: Decoding and Fluency Interventions
Application Application Form (PDF)
Contact GA-RLD@fairfield.edu

You will hear from the RLD Program Graduate Assistant who manages the clinic application and selection process, including communication with families.

Wilson Reading Level 1 Certification Intervention Clinic

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Wilson Reading Level 1 Certification Intervention Clinic

Overview To provide eligible students with a profile characteristic of, or a diagnosis of, dyslexia with access to individualized one-on-one Wilson Reading instruction.
Dates September - June

3 - 4 days/week (60 - 90 minutes)

OR

January - August

3 - 4 days/week (60 - 90 minutes)
Eligibility Students in grades 4-12

No prior Wilson Reading instruction
Application Application Form (PDF)
Contact GA-RLD@fairfield.edu

You will hear from the RLD Program Graduate Assistant who manages the clinic application and selection process, including communication with families.

Apply

The RLD Program accepts candidates on a rolling admission basis.

Candidates pursuing a degree, certificate, or certification must be formally admitted and fully matriculated into a program; however qualified applicants who wish to begin their studies prior to completing the formal admission application may apply as a non-matriculated student and register for up to two courses, with advisor permission.

  • Create an application account
  • Email the Program Director to schedule an interview and plan a program of study: jmccombes-tolis@fairfield.edu (provide your availability and phone number).
  • Upload an unofficial transcript
  • Electronically sign and date the GE Non-Matriculated Student Enrollment Stipulation page
  • Submit a $60 application fee (note: fee may be waived by Graduate Admissions: please inquire of the Program Director when planning your program of study)

Please note that Non-Matriculated candidates are not eligible for any form of tuition or financial aid support.

Non-Matriculated applicants who are approved for coursework by the RLD Program Director and intend to matriculate fully into the program must continue to complete their online application for matriculation and submit for evaluation.

PART 1

  • Create an application account
  • Complete all required questions on the application
  • Email the Program Director to schedule an interview and plan a program of study: jmccombes-tolis@fairfield.edu (provide your availability and phone number)
  • Submit the $60 application fee (note: fee may be waived by Graduate Admissions: please inquire of the Program Director when planning your program of study)
  • Submit your application

PART 2

  • Request that an official transcript from EACH school you have attended, with the exception of Fairfield University, be sent to:

    Graduate Admissions Office
    Fairfield University
    1073 North Benson Road
    Fairfield, CT 06824

    Official transcripts must be received in unopened envelopes, sealed by the institution.

    If your transcript lists transfer credits, you are required to submit a transcript from the original credit granting school.
  • Upload a Resume that includes employment and education history (upload online after submission of application)
  • Upload a Personal Statement that speaks to why it is that you wish to pursue studies in the program to which you are applying.
  • (For Degree-Seeking Candidates Only) Provide contact information for two professional references. These individuals will be emailed a link to our online letter of recommendation/candidate rating portal and asked to complete both on your behalf.

Once your application is completed in full, as outlined above, it will be reviewed. You may check on the status of application materials you have requested (e.g. transcripts, letters of recommendations) by logging back into the student portal.

Please note that Matriculated candidates are eligible for various forms of financial aid support: please visit the Financial Aid page for more information.

More About Reading & Language Development

Career Development

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Career Development

Candidates earning degrees and certifications through the Reading and Language Development program have many career options available to them - classroom educator, literacy specialist, literacy coach, reading interventionist, professional development specialist, higher education faculty member, state department of education consultant, and more. Candidates wishing to explore new or advanced careers are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the Career Center today.

Visit the Career Center

Partners

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Partners

The RLD Program is proud to announce an exclusive Connecticut partnership with Wilson Language Systems that permits our candidates to earn a Wilson Reading Level I Certification as part of a 10-credit Online Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate Program or as part of a master (MA) or sixth year certificate (SYC) degree in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts.

We also partner with school districts across Connecticut that are interested in bringing our unique programs, complete with course-embedded diagnostic and intervention components, on site for the benefit of educators, paraeducators, and students.

If your organization is interested in exploring a partnership with the RLD Program; or, if your district is interested in establishing an off-campus, site-based RLD Program cohort, please contact Program Director Dr. Jule McCombes-Tolis, today.

Off-Campus Cohort Opportunities

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Off-Campus Cohort Opportunities

Each year, in an effort to support the educator training and student intervention needs of Connecticut’s public schools, the Reading and Language Development program partners with a select number of districts/district collaboratives to offer educators from their communities the opportunity to earn an MA in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts with Wilson Reading Level I Certification and an optional #102: Remedial Reading/Remedial Language Arts Consultant Certification.

Districts benefit in the following ways from being able to offer select students the opportunity to participate in course-embedded, faculty-supervised community clinics:

Year 1

  • Fall: Healthy Literacy Screening Clinic (1 Session) (Grades: Flexible)
  • Spring: Diagnostic Reading Assessment Clinic (2 Sessions) (Grades: Flexible)
  • Summer: Structured Literacy Intervention Clinic (4x/week) (Grades: 1-3)

Year 2

  • Fall and spring: Wilson Reading Intervention Clinic (3x/week) (Grades 4+)

Districts interested in establishing an Affiliation Agreement to launch an off-campus cohort are advised that a minimum planning period of six months is necessary to adequately recruit candidates and prepare to launch the program. Please refer to the off-campus cohort planning guidelines.

A minimum cohort size of 16 admitted candidates is required.

Off-Campus Cohort Planning Guidelines (PDF)

Support Reading & Language Development Programming

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Support Reading & Language Development Programming

Through the generous support of funders such as the Grossman Family Foundation, the Anne E. Fowler Foundation, and the Noble Trust, the RLD Program has been able to offer innovative educator training and student intervention clinics to communities across Connecticut.

Some of the initiatives that funders have sponsored to date have included:

  • Fellowships for educators from urban and priority districts: full tuition, monetary stipend, negotiated leave of absence from teaching, etc.
  • DIBELS multi-day, hands-on training institute for educators
  • 6+1 Traits of Writing multi-day, hands-on training workshops for educators, with complementary instructional materials for the classroom and reference texts for participants
  • Mobile remedial reading curriculum and lending libraries for educators from urban and priority districts
  • Establishment of a dyslexia intervention clinic
  • Orton-Gillingham training for classroom educators

There are many ways to support the work of the RLD Program. Whether you are interested in establishing a scholarship fund, advancing a training initiative for the benefit of your community, or finding a meaningful way to honor the memory of someone who was deeply committed to literacy, your contribution matters. As a first step to exploring your vision for giving, please email RLD Program Director Dr. Jule McCombes-Tolis.

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