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  • M.S. in Teaching Literacy, Birth to Grade 12

    Make an impact on a child’s literacy development
    Build a philosophical foundation with hands-on strategies for developing speaking, listening, reading and writing abilities.
    School of Education
    Dobbs Ferry, Bronx & Online

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Teaching Literacy, Birth to Grade 12 M.S. Curriculum

Course Requirements for the Master of Science in Literacy, Birth–Grade 12 33 Credits
Total 33 Credits

Course Requirements

  • EDUC 507 Aprchs Lit: EChldhd-Adolescenc
  • EDUC 522 Lang Develop & Lit Acquisition
  • EDUC 561 Ltrcy Instctn Stdnts Dsbls
  • EDUC 573 Lrng Tchnlgy Across Eng Lang
  • EDUC 590 Teach Writing/Writing Process
  • EDUC 591 Child & Adolescent Literature
  • EDUC 643 Read/Write Cntnt Area Grd 5-12
  • EDUC 648 Dmsns of Lrng & Ltrcy
  • EDUC 659 Pract Literacy Assess Birth-12
  • EDUC 660 Practicum in Lit Instr Practic
  • EDUC 658 Seminar: Orgn/Admin Lit Prgms

Program Progression:

  • Core courses EDUC 507, 561, 573 and 648 should be completed prior to registering fro EDUC 659.
  • At the completion of 12 credits, students should register for EDUC 659.
  • At the completion of 15 credits, students should register for EDUC 660.
  • EDUC 658 should be taken in the student's last semester and students must have completed 27 credits, at least one practicum and have permission from the chair. 

Degree-seeking candidates must pass the CST in Literacy in order to enroll in the clinical course, EDUC 658.

Student Classification and Prerequisites

Candidates who meet all prerequisites and admission requirements will be accepted and classified as matriculants.

Candidates without a sufficient undergraduate background in the liberal arts and sciences will be required to take recommended prerequisite courses in accordance with New York State certification requirements. Sufficient college-level background includes: English, mathematics, science, social studies, information retrieval, artistic expression, a language other than English, and a 30-credit concentration in a liberal arts and science academic subject. Candidates will be able to take the necessary prerequisite courses at Mercy College.

Undergraduate prerequisites for students seeking the initial certificate in Childhood, Early Childhood, Literacy, TESOL*, the Dual Certifications programs or the Tri-Certification program are:

  • Mathematical Processes - 6 credits
  • Scientific Processes - 6 credits
  • Historical and Social Sciences - 6 credits
  • Language other than English - 3 credits*
  • Information Retrieval - 3 credits
  • Communications/Humanities/Written Analysis and Expression - 3 credits
  • Artistic Expression - 3 credits

*TESOL majors require 12 credits of the same language.

A course in Child Development or Developmental Psychology is required.

Candidates should consult with the program chair or designee regarding acceptable academic concentrations or majors.

Undergraduate prerequisites for candidates seeking the initial certification in Secondary Education and the Dual Certification program are:

  • Communications - 3 credits
  • Humanities - 3 credits
  • Written Analysis and Expression - 6 credits
  • Historical and Social Sciences - 3 credits
  • Scientific Processes - 3 credits
  • Mathematical Processes - 3 credits
  • Artistic Expression - 3 credits
  • Information Retrieval - 3 credits
  • Language other than English - 3 credits

A 30-credit major or equivalent in a liberal arts and science academic subject taught in secondary schools:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Social Studies (at least 21 credits must be in the history and geography of the U.S. and the world)

Candidates must present at least 18 of the 30 required prerequisite credits in the specific secondary content area or 18 of the required 30 prerequisite credits in the liberal arts and sciences area for matriculation into a program of study. Transcripts are subject to review regarding the appropriateness of courses for specific programs of study.

Language Proficiency

Since the ability to communicate effectively in English with pupils in the classroom is considered paramount, all candidates seeking teacher certification are expected to demonstrate competencies in oral and written English.


Upon matriculation, the candidate is assigned an advisor from the Office of Student Services. Each candidate must consult with the advisor, program chair or his/her designee regarding required courses and electives for the program of study selected, and to develop a plan of study for degree completion.

Course Load

Full-time candidates may take nine to twelve credits per semester. No candidate may exceed twelve credits per semester. Part-time candidates may take three to six credits per semester. Courses are offered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Online Component

The courses in the programs have a mandatory online component that enables candidates to interact with the instructor and with one another between class meetings. The purpose of the online component is to encourage interaction among candidates and enrich the learning experience using technology as a learning and communication tool.

Transfer Credits

Graduate courses taken at other institutions prior to admission at Mercy College may, if pertinent to the plan of study, be credited to the graduate degree. Permission to transfer credits must be requested at the time of admission and official transcripts and course descriptions must be submitted to the program chair or associate dean for evaluation. Transfer credit is limited to six semester hours of credit for courses taken within the last five years in which the student has received a grade of B or better. Transfer credits are not recorded as part of the GPA. Courses with a grade of B- or below are not transferable.

After matriculation, candidates may not register for courses at another institution with the intention of transferring credit to Mercy College unless written permission from the Associate Dean is obtained prior to registering for courses. If prior approval is not received, transfer credit will not be accepted.

Maintenance of Matriculation

It is expected that candidates will fulfill the requirements for their graduate degree by registering during successive sessions. For cohort programs, registration is required during summer session(s). Registration is accomplished by either enrolling in classes or maintaining matriculation. A Maintenance of Matriculation fee is charged each semester.

Candidates who have not maintained matriculation and wish to return to their program within one year after their last course will be charged the Maintenance of Matriculation fee for each missed term. Maintenance of matriculation without attending classes is limited to one year. Activated U.S. Military Reservists are not required to pay the Maintenance of Matriculation fee.

Maintenance of Good Academic Standing

The cumulative GPA for both good academic standing and degree conferral is 3.0. A student admitted with specific academic conditions is required to achieve a 3.0 GPA or better after completing a certain number of credits as stipulated by the student’s respective program. Grades are subject to review by the associate dean and program chair at the end of each term. If the academic GPA falls below 3.0, the student may be dismissed or placed on academic probation.

Academic Probation and Dismissal Review

Please refer to the college policies in the Academic Regulations and Procedures section of the course catalog.

Incomplete Grades

If, due to an unforeseeable and extenuating circumstance, a teacher candidate has been unable to complete all course assignments, and has been in attendance for the full term, and has completed the majority of the course assignments, she/he may request an incomplete grade. The issuance of an incomplete grade is at the discretion of the course professor and is not automatic. If granted, the “AGREEMENT FORM FOR INCOMPLETE GRADE” must be completed by both the professor and the teacher candidate.

After receiving the assignment(s) by the specified due date, the professor will grade the assignment(s), and will contact the registrar and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to have the final grade changed based upon the accomplishment of the course objectives according to a specified evaluation plan as presented in the course syllabus.

If the assignment(s) are not completed by the specified due date, the professor reserves the right to change the grade to that which the candidate had earned before requesting the incomplete, or to let it remain a permanent incomplete as outlined in the Mercy College Graduate Catalog.

Time Limit

The School of Education Degree must be completed within five years from the date of the candidate’s admission (exclusive of time spent in the Armed Forces). Exceptions will only be made if a candidate requests an extension in writing and receives the approval of the school dean.

TaskStream Requirement

All School of Education degree, advanced certificate and non-degree candidates must register for and establish an electronic portfolio account through TaskStream. TaskStream accounts are free for candidates and faculty. Course instructors have the information needed to set up an account, if you do not already have one, or to renew a previous account. Candidates will contribute assignments to the portfolio throughout their program of study and will include the course key assessments and specific assignments as required by the candidate’s degree or advanced certificate program. The key assessments are critical to our program improvement efforts and to continuing accreditation. A student’s final course grade for courses with a key assessment cannot be submitted until all necessary assessments have been uploaded to TaskStream.

The completed e-Portfolio is the capstone requirement in all School of Education degrees and certificate programs and successful evaluation of the e-Portfolio is required for the degree or certificate.

Organization of the Program

Candidates in both the Initial and Advanced Teacher certification programs follow a three-transition point progression through the program leading to the completion of degree and certification requirements.

Transition Point One: Admission to Program

Admission is determined by transcript analysis and GPA review. 

Transition Point Two: Admission to Clinical Practice

Candidates seeking initial certification in Early Childhood, Childhood, Secondary or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, must complete a clinical practice to meet degree and certification requirements. Depending on your current classroom employment and teaching experience candidates will register for either:

  • EDUC 709 Student Teaching Experience - Open to candidates who do not currently possess New York State certification (Initial Candidates)
  • EDUC 713 Seminar in Teaching — Open to candidates who are employed as teaching assistants or paraprofessionals.
  • EDUC 537 Current Critical Issues in American Education - Open to candidates who are the teacher of record in a private, charter or parochial school.
  • EDUC 707 Mentoring Seminar in TESOL — Open to candidates in the Professional M.S. or the Advanced Certificate in TESOL program.

The “Student Teaching Experience” or “Seminar in Teaching” course provides the candidate with an on-site college supervised classroom experience in a school. Appropriate course registration is determined by current or prior classroom experience. Candidates are expected to demonstrate all competencies during the clinical practice experience.

Candidates are expected to demonstrate competencies related to content knowledge pedagogical and professional knowledge, technology, professional dispositions and the ability to work with diverse populations during the student teaching/clinical practice experience.

Students will not be admitted into these courses without first passing all necessary state certification tests and obtaining Program Director approval. 

Students in the Advanced Teacher programs in Childhood, Early Childhood and Adolescence Education will register for course EDUC 537, "Current Critical Issues in American Education" and will complete an action research comprehensive project and may be required to complete additional student teaching and fieldwork hours to meet certification requirements. 

Admission to clinical practice requires candidates to apply for placement the semester prior to the anticipated course registration. Applications should be submitted in TaskStream tot he Office of Clinical Practice and Certification in the School of Education at the Dobbs Ferry campus.

Clinical Practice Application Deadlines:
Fall.................................February 15
Spring........................... October 15

Transition Point Three: Completion of Program

Upon completion of the capstone project and all other degree requirements, the School of Education will process the candidate’s application for certification. All prerequisite course requirements must be satisfied prior to seeking certification. Program completion requires a 3.0 GPA. Initial New York State certification also requires achieving qualifying scores on the Academic Literacy Test, ALST, the Educating All Students Test, EAS, and the Content Specialty Test (CST), in the area of each certificate being requested and receiving a passing score on the edTPA assessment.

Certification Tests

Initial certification candidates must pall all required certification tests prior to their student teaching semester. Additionally, a candidate in a clinical practice course - EDUC 537, EDUC 709 and EDUC 713 - must submit an edTPA examination to Pearson as one of the course requirements. A candidate will not pass the clinical practice course without submitting proof of his or her edTPA submission in the form of a receipt from Pearson by the end of the semester's grading period.

Mercy College provides support for candidates to prepare for these tests. Workshops are provided for the ALST, the EAS and some CSTs. Also, candidates or graduates who need to retake the edTPA may opt to take a workshop or edTPA course (EDUC 612) for more support. Interested candidates should contact the School of Education for more information.

Other certification requirements include:

  • Completion of a Child Abuse Awareness seminar
  • Completion of a Violence Identification and Prevention seminar
  • Completion of the Dignity for All Students Workshop (DASA); and
  • Fingerprint clearance.

Only United States citizens, or those who declare their intention to become United States citizens, are eligible for New York State certification.

Recent student performance on the previous certification tests implemented by the state until 2014, the Liberal Arts and Science Test (LAST), the Written Assessment of Teaching Skills (ATS-W) and the Content Specialty Test (CST), is presented in the chart below:

2014–2015 Student Performance on the LAST, ATS-W and CST

LAST PasS Rate ATS-W Pass Rate CST Pass Rate


What will I learn?
More than just how to teach students to read. You’ll learn about the background and foundations of literacy, practices for emergent literacy, English language learners, and teaching students with disabilities, as well as child and adolescent literature, content area reading and writing, literacy assessment, and research techniques.
Should I be certified prior to entering the Program?
Yes. An initial certification from New York State or an equivalent certification from another state is required.
What education programs do you offer?
The School of Education offers a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in one of the following areas: Early Childhood Education, Birth-Grade 2; Childhood Education, Grades 1-6; Secondary Education, 7-12; Teaching Literacy, Birth-Grade 12; Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL); Bilingual Extension to a Teaching Certificate; School Building Leadership; Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership.
What careers does the MS in Teaching Literacy lead to?
Most schools have literacy positions at all levels including emergent literacy, early childhood, childhood education and literacy for adolescents. Also: reading teacher, literacy coach, and remedial reading/writing specialist. Our graduates also remain elementary or secondary classroom teachers who have strong competence in classroom literacy instruction and assessment.
Which state exams do I need to take to earn my initial or advanced certification as a teacher?
The following exams are required for initial candidates: ALST, EAS, CST(s) in your certification area(s), and the edTPA during student teaching, which is the last semester. Other state requirements include fingerprinting and workshops (DASA, Child Abuse, Violence Prevention, Health and Safety). The following exams are required for advanced candidates: CST(s) in your certification area(s).
Is Mercy College a nonsectarian institution?
Yes. Qualified applicants are admitted without regard to race, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age or physical disability.
Is there demand for these positions?
Yes. Schools need teachers who are highly trained in literacy. 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.
Mi-Hyun Chung Professor, Literacy and Multilingual Studies
Aramina Ferrer Associate Professor, Literacy and Multilingual Studies
Barbara Keckler Associate Professor, Literacy and Multilingual Studies
Patrick McCabe Associate Professor, Literacy and Multilingual Studies
Erica Newhouse Assistant Professor, Literacy and Multilingual Studies

Teaching Literacy, Birth to Grade 12 Overview

The M.S. in Teaching Literacy, Birth - Grade 12 prepares candidates to be dually certified as a Literacy teacher in both Birth - Grade 6 and Grades 5 - 12 (Dual certification). Our program prepares candidates to become reading teachers, literacy coaches, and remedial reading/writing specialists. Our graduates also remain Elementary and Secondary classroom teachers who have strong competence in classroom literacy instruction and assessment. 

Teaching Literacy, Birth to Grade 12 Fast Facts

  • Provides the training necessary to become literacy specialists. 
  • Provides learner-centered literacy programs
  • Provides faculty guidance and support

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the Teaching Literacy program may pursue positions as a classroom teacher, literacy teacher and/or literacy coach.

Teaching Literacy, Birth to Grade 12 FAQS

Should I be certified prior to entering the Program?
Yes. An initial certification from New York State or an equivalent certification from another state is required.
What will I learn?
More than just how to teach students to read. You’ll learn about the background and foundations of literacy, practices for emergent literacy, English language learners, and teaching students with disabilities, as well as child and adolescent literature, content area reading and writing, literacy assessment, and research techniques.

Admission Requirements

Please refer to the general requirements for admission and matriculation in the Graduate Admissions section of the course catalog. Please review the prerequisite preparation for each program and consult with the program chair or associate dean.

Requirements for admission and matriculation include:

1. A completed application for admission.

2. Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate degrees.

3. A résumé.

4. A teaching certificate


Our literacy programs are nationally recognized and accredited by the International Reading Association (IRA).

Teaching Literacy, Birth to Grade 12 Objectives

Teaching Literacy Program Goals

Students in the Teaching Literacy Program will acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to meet the literacy needs of children in urban and suburban settings, and will be able to do the following:

  1. Link theory and practice to create environments conducive to literacy learning.
  2. Provide appropriate instruction for students experiencing difficulty in acquiring literacy skills including students with disabilities and English language learners.
  3. Analyze assessment data for instructional decision-making.
  4. Communicate information about literacy to parents, caregivers, and school personnel.
  5. Set professional goals and responsibilities.
  6. Provide differentiated instruction that focuses on students diversities.

Goals of the School of Education

The unit goals establish the shared vision, mission, philosophy, and guiding principles agreed to by members of the faculty and other stakeholders in the learning community. The unit’s proficiencies, strategies, and assessments are designed to ensure that candidates acquire the academic, pedagogical, professional, and interpersonal skills required of teachers and other school professionals who prepare students to succeed in a rapidly changing global environment. The six goals reflect the integrated knowledge, skills, and dispositions that together ensure that candidates develop as effective educators and reflective practitioners. These goals are as follows:

Content Knowledge: Candidates demonstrate a solid content knowledge base that enables them to deliver effective educational and professional services based on current research, theory and practice.

Pedagogical and Professional Knowledge: Candidates employ multiple pedagogical and professional strategies and tools to enable them to be effective practitioners in educational settings and deliver services that promote students’ intellectual, social, and emotional development.

Diversity: Candidates understand the diverse cultural, linguistic, learning, and social strengths and needs of all populations, and incorporate and demonstrate sensitivity to the richness of diverse cultures when providing educational and other school-services.

Technology: Candidates employ technology to deliver information, instruction, and professional services to all members of the school community.

Reflection: Candidates reflect on professional practice to make educational decisions and enhance student learning.

Dispositions: Candidates demonstrate positive dispositions that enable them to work as effective educators, citizens, and practitioners within the school and broader community.

The six unit goals are supported by the professional literature including theories, research, wisdom of practice, and education policies.

Program Outcomes

By the end of this program, students should be able to: 

  • Demonstrate a solid content knowledge base that enables them to deliver effective educational and professional services based on current research, theory and practice
  • Employ multiple pedagogical and professional strategies and tools to enable them to be effective practitioners in educational settings and deliver services that promote students’ intellectual, social, and emotional development
  • Understand the diverse cultural, linguistic, learning, and social strengths and needs of all populations, and incorporate and demonstrate sensitivity to the richness of diverse cultures when providing educational and other school services
  • Employ technology to deliver information, instruction, and professional services to all members of the school community
  • Reflect on professional practice to make educational decisions and enhance student learning
  • Demonstrate positive dispositions that enable them to work as effective educators, citizens, and practitioners within the school and broader community