Specialist Credential Programs

Specialist Instruction Credentials

A specialist instruction credential authorizes the holder to work as a specialist in the area designated. Specialty preparation requires advanced coursework and development of special competencies.

Reading and Language Arts Specialist Credential — 30 units

The curriculum meets the licensing requirement of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The Reading and Language Arts Specialist Credential may be combined with the Master of Arts: Concentration Language and Literacy. Admission to the program requires a 3.0 GPA. The student must maintain a B average or better while in the program.


  • A valid basic teaching credential.
  • Verification of successful classroom teaching experience.
  • Passing score on the commission’s examination for the teaching of reading or successful completion of one of the following commission-approved reading methods courses:
    S ED 720Literacy Across Content Areas3
    E ED 782Teaching Reading and Language Arts: K-53-4
    E ED 737Teaching Social Studies, Social Justice, and Literacy: Grades 3-63

Teaching Experience

Successful completion of three years of teaching in a classroom situation must be verified in writing by the administrator(s) involved in the settings where the experience took place by completion of the Reading Specialist Program.

Note: Candidates may complete the course work for the Specialist Credential without the completed three years of teaching experience. However, they will not be issued the credential until the three years of experience are verified.

Objectives for reading specialists are as follows:

  • Collaborate and consult at school sites/districts.
  • Develop a firm understanding of the professional responsibilities as an educational agent for change at the school site and district level.
  • Understand the current California State standards and curriculum changes as these apply to policy, curriculum, and practice.
  • Become the reading/language arts liaison between the state, the district, and the school site.
  • Envision their role to coordinate and provide leadership for the school-wide literacy program.
  • Develop a vision of how they will provide home-school connections that support literacy development.
  • Research ways to serve as a resource for community literacy development in English, English as a second language, or in the native language of the community.
  • Provide professional development for school site teachers, paraprofessional, and parents on research-based instructional strategies.
  • Serve as a resource for guiding assessment.
  • Provide individual assessment for students who are struggling in literacy.
  • Provide direct assessment to English language learners and guide the classroom teachers on effective instructional strategies that support literacy development.
  • Promote the use of multiple assessment tools, both formal and informal, to the staff.
  • Contribute to the design and implementation of a school-wide assessment that is aligned with the state standards in reading/language arts.
  • Use assessment as a form to inform instructional decision making for the school site.
  • Interpret assessment results for the school staff, parents, and community.
  • Apply expertise to distinguish reading and writing difficulties from second language acquisition development as these areas pertain to English language learners.
  • Assist school staff and parents to locate community resources to meet individual needs of a student that are within and beyond the school.
  • Articulate and deliver instruction by gaining knowledge in the following areas: literacy theories, assessment, and classroom applications.
  • Examine research-based theories and methods of balanced early literacy instruction in reading, writing, listening, and speaking for use in linguistically and culturally diverse classroom settings.
  • Examine, demonstrate, and practice classroom techniques and daily professional development sessions and classroom practice that provide for and build upon diversity in students’ abilities, personal interests, linguistics, cultural and socioeconomic background characteristics.
  • Describe and demonstrate a variety of approaches to the organization of literacy instruction; e.g., individual, whole-class, homogenous and heterogeneous small groups, cooperative and collaborative groups.
  • Examine and evaluate instructional materials for reading and writing in English and English as a second language, with a focus on skills and comprehensive literacy development and aligned with the California English Language Arts and the California Language Development Frameworks and California English Development and English Language Arts: Standards for English Learners.
  • Implement instructional methods and materials in reading and writing that build motivation and self-esteem by addressing individual pupil need, interests, social, emotional, linguistic, and cultural background factors.
  • Describe, demonstrate, and practice techniques for diagnostic evaluation, formal and informal assessment in reading and writing development for native speakers and English language learners in the culminating portfolio, class discussions, and presentation.
  • Research, discuss, and compare a variety of genre materials for literacy development (including technology and other media), functional, recreational, and expository purposes that reflect cultural and linguistic diversity for kindergarten to twelfth grades (selecting an appropriate range for the reading specialist’s grade span).
  • Apply knowledge for teaching reading/language arts and second language acquisition strategies to scaffold English language learners who will need additional support in the English language structure, vocabulary development, and understanding of orthographic patterns.

Required Courses

E ED 725Classroom Issues in Language, Literacy, and Culture3
E ED 708Language and Literacy in the Early Years3
E ED 770Teaching Integrated Literacy and Assessment, TK-5 (Grades K - 5)3
E ED 771Literacy Clinic II: Multidisciplinary Assessment and Remediation of Language and Literacy Problems (Grades 6 - 12)3
E ED 785Literacy Theories: Connections to Classroom Practices3
Select one of the following:3
Exploring Child and Adolescent Literature
Family Literacy Studies of the Elementary Age Child
Integrating Language, Literacy, and Technology in Elementary School Curriculum
Seminar on Social Issues and Curriculum Development
Mathematics and Science Inquiry for Children

Classroom Application Required

E ED 720Research and Practice in Language and Literacy Education3
E ED 726Engaging Young Writers in Classroom Settings, TK-123
E ED 869Enhancing Access for Bi-Literate Learner, TK-12 (grades K-12)3

Culminating Activity in Professional Leadership

E ED 723Inservice Leadership in Reading3

Reading Certificate

San Francisco State University offers a fifteen-unit Reading Certificate consisting of five courses, all of which apply to the Reading and Language Arts Specialist Credential, should the Reading Certificate candidate wish to complete the more advanced credential.

The Reading Certificate authorizes the holder to assess student reading and provide reading instruction in response to the assessments. The holder is also authorized to develop, implement, and adapt the reading and content curriculum, and assist classroom teachers in these areas. The certificate holder may perform these services at one or more school sites at the grade levels authorized by their prerequisite credential.

Admission to the Reading Certificate program requires that the candidate hold a valid elementary or secondary teaching credential, either

  1. a teaching credential that requires a bachelor’s degree and a professional preparation program that includes student teaching, or
  2. a clear, full-time designated subjects teaching credential, provided the holder also possesses a bachelor’s degree and has passed the CBEST.

Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester units.

The applicant must verify three years of successful, full-time teaching experience in any grades or subjects, pre-school through adult at the time of program completion. He/she must hold a California teaching credential. Out of state credentials must meet the requirements of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. However, neither student teaching nor internship teaching nor teaching while holding an emergency credential will count toward the three years of experience required for the Reading Certificate. The following courses are required.

Reading Certificate (15 units)

E ED 705Exploring Child and Adolescent Literature3
E ED 726Engaging Young Writers in Classroom Settings, TK-123
E ED 770Teaching Integrated Literacy and Assessment, TK-53
E ED 771Literacy Clinic II: Multidisciplinary Assessment and Remediation of Language and Literacy Problems3
E ED 869Enhancing Access for Bi-Literate Learner, TK-123

Application Process

In addition to the university graduate application, please submit the following to the:

Reading/Language Arts Coordinator
San Francisco State University
Department of Elementary Education
College of Education
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132

Submit a statement of purpose, unofficial transcript, and two letters of recommendation addressing professional and academic abilities.