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Florida Teachers Better Equipped with UT's New Degree

Published: March 15, 2007
Florida teachers soon can earn another master’s degree at The University of Tampa that will better equip them to teach reading at the elementary level and subject areas at the secondary level.

“We look at students who can’t do math, can’t do science, and it’s really that they can’t read,” said Dr. Martha Harrison, associate professor of education. “If we could remove the barrier of low reading skills and poor attitudes toward reading, we could raise performance in the content area.”

The Master of Education degree program in curriculum and instruction starts this fall in the UT Department of Education. The program is designed for individuals with undergraduate degrees in education who want to expand their knowledge of the teaching field. The curriculum and instruction program is a full-time or part-time field-based program that will meet the needs of today's practicing teachers.

This customized degree program offers Florida teachers a unique opportunity to engage in an academic experience that combines face-to-face instruction with classroom-based research and curriculum design. Teachers will have mentors at the University willing to help them with issues they face in the classroom every day. They also will have opportunities for professional development and travel.

“Teachers graduating from this program might be hired as reading specialists or reading coaches, and they’re more likely to be team leaders and special education teachers,” Harrison said.

The number of teachers retiring, combined with Florida’s class-size reduction bill that goes into effect this fall, will result in an even higher demand for teachers, Harrison added.

Participants will take 33-37 credit hours of coursework over a span of 18 months. The M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction program is designed around the competencies and skills that lead to the K-12 Reading Endorsement in the state of Florida. Since reading still is a critical needs area in Florida, students may be eligible for some loan forgiveness for the program, Harrison added.

“This is going to give graduate students the best chance at success in the classroom,” Harrison said. “This program qualifies them for master’s pay and gives them more competency in the classroom for reading strategies and skills.”

There will be an information session about the new program on Thursday, March 15, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Vaughn Center Board Room on the UT campus. For information, contact Harrison at (813) 257-3373.