SJU Recognized by International Dyslexia Association

Graduate special ed program provides quality reading instruction for at-risk students

Monday, June 4, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (June 4, 2012) — The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) named Saint Joseph’s University one of nine university programs in the United States to meet the standards outlined in their Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. The IDA Standards provide the most thorough, research-supported documentation of what every teacher ought to know and be able to demonstrate, whether they are teaching dyslexic students, other struggling readers or the general student population.

IDA evaluated SJU’s Saint Joseph’s master’s program in special education for its alignment with Standards, reviewed course syllabi and other course materials and requirements, and conducted a site visit.

“Learning to teach reading, language and writing is a complex undertaking,” says Louisa Moats, Ed.D., Chair of IDA’s Standards and Practices Committee. “The competence and expertise of teachers can be nourished with training that emphasizes the study of reading development, language and individual differences. If teachers are better prepared, the impact of reading difficulties, including dyslexia, will be lessened, and many more students will receive the instruction and support they require to reach their potential.”

Students in SJU’s graduate special education programs benefit from a unique partnership with the Academy in Manayunk (AIM) in Conshohocken, Pa., which allows them to earn hands-on experience working with students with language-based learning difficulties. SJU graduate students who work as teacher-scholars at AIM go on to be some of the most valued professionals in the schools where they work.

“There is an urgent need for qualified teachers who can both correctly diagnose learning problems and be able to provide their students with research-based instructional programs to meet specific needs,” says Cathy Spinelli, Ph.D., chair and professor of special education. “Saint Joseph’s is graduating the finest special education teachers who are beginning to make a real difference for at-risk students.”

The IDA Standards emphasize the need for teachers to be trained more deeply in the structure of language, including the speech sound system, the writing system, the structure of sentences, the meaningful parts of words, relationships among words and their referents, and the organization of spoken and written discourse.

Media Contact

Kelly Welsh, Director of Communications/College of Arts and Sciences, University Communications, 610-660-1385,

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