Date of Award

Summer 7-2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Panagos

Second Advisor

Dr. Beth Kania-Gosche

Third Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Bice


Special reading certification in the state of Missouri requires a candidate to complete coursework that involves two three hour practicum experiences. These experiences must entail working with students in kindergarten through grade 12. The practicum experiences are designed to provide significant instruction in the area of reading strategies for struggling readers. Since the advent of No Child Left Behind (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education [MODESE], 2009b) there has been an increased demand for special reading teachers. Many universities have experienced an increase in the number of students seeking special reading certification. This qualitative study focuses on the three models of practicum experiences provided at Lindenwood University, a liberal arts college located in the Midwestern United States. The candidates for special reading certification at this university are required to complete two practicum experiences with one practicum addressing elementary students and the other addressing secondary students. A survey was developed to determine how well prepared candidates perceived they were as a result of their participation in the two practicum experiences. Surveys were mailed to 300 candidates who had participated in the practicum experiences at Lindenwood University. Fifty surveys were returned to the university with returns for each model receiving almost equal distribution. Three models provided at the university were investigated which included the School District Model whereby candidates were supervised in the district where they worked by the special reading teacher. The second model, the After School Model involved candidates tutoring struggling readers at a local elementary school twice weekly after school hours. The third model investigated was the Camp Read-A-Lot Model which involved candidates tutoring children in iii reading in a camp setting during the summer for three weeks. Instructors for each practicum experience were interviewed in addition to the surveys that were completed by the candidates for purposes of triangulation in data collection. I believed that each practicum had strengths and perhaps some weaknesses that could be corrected as a result of this study to ensure that all candidates felt prepared to assume the challenges involved in becoming a special reading teacher. The results of the study indicated that the practicum experiences were each unique and that many strengths and some weakness were identified by the candidates. I was able to make recommendations regarding supervision, resources, collegial support, and authenticity of the format of the practicum experiences. I believe that these suggestions will strengthen an already appropriate experience by providing more authentic, hands on experiences for special reading candidates. I also believe that these suggestions, and the format of these three practicum models, would be models that other universities might determine are best for their special reading candidates.


Copyright 2010