Master of Science in Education, Literacy Education

Philosophy and Goals

Literacy Program

We welcome your interest in the Literacy Program in the Graduate School of Education at Binghamton University. 

What Sets Us Apart?

  • We are looking for teachers who are committed to making a difference in their schools, districts and communities.
  • Our multi-dimensional admissions procedure is based on your application essay, references, GPA and an interview.
  • We provide a competency-based program that meets International Reading Association and New York State Reading Association guidelines for reading/literacy specialists.
  • We provide small class sizes of 10-20 students and the opportunity to work closely with faculty who are actively involved in research, publication, local schools and professional organizations. We encourage your involvement in publication and research.
  • Assessment and instruction, literacy buddies, case studies and curriculum development projects insure that you will make strong links between theory and practice.
  • In our school-based practicum you are supervised by University faculty in conjunction with school-based literacy specialists.
  • We integrate technology in meaningful ways throughout the program.

Program Overview

The success of our children and youth depends on effective literacy programs. The recent emphasis on literacy in national and state education agendas requires that our elementary, middle and high schools employ highly qualified literacy teachers and specialists. GSE and Binghamton University are committed to the preparation of reading/literacy teachers and specialists who are highly qualified. Our graduates have the knowledge and understanding to provide expert leadership and instruction in our schools and communities.

Our Philosophy

The Literacy Program at Binghamton University is grounded in the belief that literacy teacher education is a transformative process for both graduate students and the students they teach. It embraces the SUNY motto, "Let each become all s/he is capable of being," by encouraging graduate students to find their professional voices. This philosophical perspective is anchored in theories of learning that include psycholinguistics, socio-cultural constructivism and democratic education. Implementation of this perspective is demonstrated in a program that produces reflective and critical literacy teachers who translate theory in practice.

We believe that optimal learning occurs when caring teachers who are passionate about literacy and literacy teaching have opportunities to construct their own literacy understandings as they engage in graduate work and school-based literacy instruction. We believe there is an important interplay between the "study" of literacy teaching and the "doing" of literacy teaching. This interplay results in reflection, modification and adoption of best practices for the literacy development of students from diverse backgrounds, abilities and experiences.

Our Program

The Literacy Program is selective and provides rigorous academic study and supervised field experiences in literacy education for provisionally certified teachers of preK-6 elementary education or a Grades 7-12 academic subject who desire certification as Birth-Grade 6 or Grades 5-12 literacy specialists. Graduates earn a master of science degree in education from Binghamton University and are eligible then to receive New York certification as a teacher of literacy.

The program follows the International Reading Association's Guidelines for the Specialized Preparation of Reading Professionals (1998) and guidelines established by the New York State Commissioner of Education. Understandings of critical literacy, multiculturalism and diversity in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, culture, language, socio-economic background, learning style and ability are woven into the program.

Our Goals

Four goals drive our Literacy Program:
    1. To demonstrate and integrate our philosophy and beliefs throughout the program. We provide an intellectual community that values individual and collective growth, compassion, challenge and innovation. We do this in courses, formal and informal advisement, mentoring, and inducting students into professional organizations. As a result ,we stimulate involvement in professional activities, research and leadership.
    2. To infuse a commitment to acquire and use professional knowledge on behalf of students and schools. Courses stress the contextualized study of students as capable literacy learners who need the support of a system that identifies and values their strengths as it provides appropriately differentiated assessment and instruction. We strive to prepare our graduates to improve their students' literacy learning by providing excellent curriculum, instruction and assessment; advocating for appropriate teaching and learning environments for students; and taking leadership roles in providing exemplary literacy programs.
    3. To develop and maintain strong ties with area schools. Our courses situate school-based literacy within the complex and diverse classrooms of today's schools and the larger imperative for an informed citizenry. We want the best of our program work to inform literacy practices in area schools and the best literacy work in area schools to inform our program practices. Each course includes fieldwork that requires the completion of assignments in classrooms with K-6 or 5-12 students. The strongest links to area schools are found in the final two courses in the program: Practicum in Elementary Literacy or Practicum in Adolescent Literacy and Seminar and Research in Literacy.

In the Practica in Literacy, graduate students spend a semester working in a school with a certified reading specialist who acts as a cooperating teacher to mentor and support them as they complete competency-based tasks with students and teachers in the school. Competencies derive from four areas identified by the International Reading Association:

      • Classroom teacher of reading and writing
      • Classroom teacher and assessor of students with literacy difficulties
      • Teacher and assessor of students with severe literacy difficulties
      • Consultant and resource for the improvement of a total school literacy program.

In the Seminar and Research in Literacy, graduate students collaborate and receive support as they engage in school-based action research, self-assessment and peer feedback. They write a position paper that reflects their action research study and a mini-case study of a student with severe literacy needs. They create a final portfolio to represent their growth in the program. They explore the roles of the literacy specialist as a collaborating teacher, program developer, coordinator and policy resource.

  1. To inspire graduates to become life-long learners. We do this in several ways, including the modeling and sharing of our passion for literacy, our literacy habits, our on-going attendance at conferences and continued professional development. Furthermore, we believe technology is an important tool for literacy growth for both students and teachers, and we model and require the integration of electronic information and computer technology in our courses.

Our Graduates

Our graduates are reflective and critical users of the New York State English Language Arts (NYSELA) Standards and the IRA/NCTE Standards. They can apply their knowledge of literacy in informed, caring and thoughtful ways to curriculum, instruction and assessment in area schools.

Our graduates possess knowledge, understandings and competence in the areas of literacy theory and practices for emergent literacy, first- and second-language learners, content area reading and writing, language arts, children's literature, literacy assessment, teaching exceptional children, child or adolescent development and applied research techniques. Our graduates understand and appreciate their own diversity and the strengths that students and families of diverse backgrounds bring to literacy and schools. Our graduates are capable users of word processors, the internet as a research tool, presentation software and email.

Our program produces graduates who provide leadership in their schools and districts as reading specialists who assume a range of responsibilities beyond those of a classroom teacher. These responsibilities include specialized literacy assessment and instruction and collaborative consultation with teachers; classroom, content area, special education, media, technology, ESL, music, speech and art. Our graduates may also become or remain elementary or secondary classroom teachers who have strong competence in classroom literacy instruction and assessment.

Our graduates become reflective practitioners who care about students and are passionate about their literacy development. They practice informed problem-posing, problem-solving and decision-making as they learn to critically question their own culture and the culture of others, the schools and the larger system. They demonstrate commitment and ability to foster equitable and caring learning environments. They recognize their power to advocate for students and their families to change systems that restrict learning. Our graduates develop the self-knowledge necessary to become competent and confident risk-takers who adapt and grow as they become life-long learners.

Our Faculty

Jackie Visser, Erin Washburn, Marla Mallette and Bogum Yoon are full-time faculty in the Literacy Program. They are actively engaged in research, scholarship and service. Their résumés include books, edited texts, chapters, journal articles and professional materials. They present their work at national, state and local levels; serve on editorial boards of national and state journals; serve in leadership roles in literacy organizations at all levels; and consult and provide in-service support for area school and teacher centers.

After browsing this website, direct questions about Binghamton University's literacy programs to coordinator Erin Washburn via email or at 777-5324.

Last Updated: 11/17/16