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Fairfield University Launches Online Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate

As states continue to enact laws requiring public schools to accommodate the learning needs of students with dyslexia, the importance of preparing new and veteran teachers in effective, multisensory structured literacy is gaining ground as well.

During this academic year, Fairfield University’s Graduate School of Education & Allied Professions launched a fully online, 10-credit certificate program in multisensory structured literacy instruction in partnership with Wilson Language Training. This new program expands opportunities for educators to effectively help students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities become fluent, independent readers.

The Online Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate may be completed as a stand-alone option, or as part of a candidate’s training in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts (all tracks) and in Special Education (sixth-year track).

The new certificate program includes Level I Certification in the Wilson Reading System® (WRS), an Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction that is accredited by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Widely used in schools and districts across the U.S. as a Tier 3 intervention, WRS is designed for students who require the most intensive level of reading instruction.

Candidates who successfully complete the program are eligible to receive the Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner (W.D.P.) credential, as well as certification as a Structured Literacy/Dyslexia Interventionist with the IDA’s subsidiary, the Center for Effective Reading Instruction. This certificate program is in compliance with national accreditation standards for reading, and all coursework has been aligned with the standards of the IDA and the International Literacy Association (ILA).

“By taking a proactive approach to reading instruction and professional teacher development, we can equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully provide explicit, research-based reading instruction to students who struggle the most,” said Barbara A. Wilson, president and co-founder of Wilson Language Training. “Fairfield University’s longstanding reputation as an exceptional academic institution, coupled with the flexible online format of the program, provides an ideal opportunity for educators.”

Jule McCombes-Tolis, Ph.D., director of Fairfield University’s Reading and Language Development Program, will oversee the new program. An experienced classroom educator certified in special education and remedial reading, Dr. McCombes-Tolis has served as Chief Academic Officer for educator training initiatives for the IDA. She was recently appointed by the State of Connecticut’s House of Representatives to serve as co-chair of the Task Force to Analyze the Implementation of Laws Governing Dyslexia Instruction and Training.

Dr. McCombes-Tolis shared, “Fairfield is so pleased to offer our graduate candidates the unique opportunity to earn a Level I Wilson Reading System Certification as part of their MA and Sixth-Year degrees, and we are thrilled to welcome educators, paraeducators, and private tutors into the Dyslexia Interventionist Certificate program so they can also develop the specialized skills necessary to help advance off-track readers, including those identified with dyslexia.”

The first cohort of graduate students will complete certification this spring. Fairfield University is now accepting applications to the program for fall 2020 and spring 2021. For more information, please visit: https://www.fairfield.edu/wilson-reading-system.