By Don W. Locke, Ed.D. and Kay F. Peterson, M.S., LDT, CALT, QI
Q. Why did you participate in the IDA review process?
A. Mississippi College was honored to participate in the IDA review during the second round of accreditation in 2014 because we believed our courses were aligned with the IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards.
The Master of Education in Dyslexia Therapy program was established in 2004. A goal of this graduate degree program is to provide participants with relevant theory and research, appropriate methodologies, curricular knowledge, and applied techniques for use with students. Receiving IDA accreditation affirms alignment with its standards and provides the opportunity to share that distinction with prospective graduate students.
Q. How was the experience of preparing for and participating in the review?
A. The team of reviewers was professional and helpful. Their communication and interaction affirmed the quality of our instruction and research-based curriculum. As we worked through the process, our faculty identified areas of strength and areas that could be strengthened (e.g., technology).
We feel that this in-depth examination of our instructional methods and materials has permitted us to plan for future growth and reinforces our efforts toward continuous program improvement.
Q. What does the accreditation mean to your university?
A. The goal of the Master of Education in Dyslexia Therapy program at Mississippi College is to provide an educational experience that meets a community need by preparing teachers to assist students struggling with dyslexia and written language disorders. Individuals enrolled in the graduate cohort work in a variety of settings and contexts—private and clinical settings as well as independent and public schools.
Although our program had already received accreditation from the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) in 2008 that was reaffirmed through 2016, we felt that additional accreditation, based on the IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards, would provide another level of assurance that our program meets the highest standards of instruction for teachers of reading.
Accreditation by IDA acknowledges the high quality of our coursework and the program’s potential to meet the needs of our students as well as the students and adults in Mississippi and other states who are served by our graduates.
Q. Describe some of the innovative ideas you have implemented to give students a richer practicum experience.
A. The coursework and practicum are based on research and presented through a multisensory approach to teaching English language structure. Structured written composition techniques are an important component of the coursework due to research that shows the important connection between reading and writing. Our graduate students provide oral language activities during the beginning practicum as they prepare their students for written composition activities in the advanced levels of the curriculum.
In addition to working in public and independent schools, private clinics, and on a freelance basis in communities throughout Mississippi and other states, many of our graduates have opened their own independent dyslexia therapy centers. These new business ventures have successfully answered the ever-growing need for dyslexia therapy services. Our program is proud to have encouraged this spirit of entrepreneurship.
Q. How has your program leveraged outside partnerships to increase students’ learning experience?
A. We partner with the Mississippi College Education and Evaluation Center to provide practicum experiences for cohort participants. There are also partnerships with local and state education agencies, private therapists, independent and public schools, and private and public clinics. The graduate program is supported by National and Mississippi Scottish Rite Masons.
In addition, we have been able to work with state and national organizations, such as the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA), to conduct regional and statewide conferences annually. These events raise dyslexia awareness and increase knowledge of multisensory structured language education. We look forward to continuing these valuable collaborations in the years ahead.
Don W. Locke, Ed.D. is Dean of the School of Education at Mississippi College.
Kay F. Peterson, M.S., LDT, CALT, QI is the Program Director of the M.Ed. program in Dyslexia Therapy.
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