College of Education Receives Accreditation from International Dyslexia Association

West Liberty, W.Va., June 9, 2016 by — West Liberty University is one of nine universities in the country that received accreditation this year from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).

Keely 200x200“Our master’s of education reading track was recognized by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) in May and is now an IDA accredited program. This represents the hard work of our reading specialist Theresa Kowcheck and the careful preparation of a self-study, followed by an accreditation visit by IDA. We have placed a special emphasis on the explicit teaching of multi-sensory instructional literacy practices in our curriculum,” said Dr. Keely Camden, Dean of the College of Education.

The reading track in the master’s of education also was submitted to the West Virginia State Department of Education Program Review Board for recommendation to the West Virginia State Board of Education for West Virginia state accreditation.

“We expect to hear back from the State Department of Education this month on the status of our state reading certification proposal,” Dr. Camden added.

The IDA and its affiliate, the Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI), certified WLU for having met the standards outlined in IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. This was the third round of university reviews by IDA, which conducts the process every two years.

An alumna of WLU, Kowcheck teaches in the master’s program as an instructor for the reading specialist track. She also is the director of the Center for Multisensory Learning at Wheeling Country Day School where WLU students fulfill their clinical hours for the master’s in reading track.

0031-300x229“I’m proud of the long time partnership between West Liberty University and Wheeling Country Day School. The partnership between these two strong, academic institutions has built a foundational education program for teachers who instruct students with language-based learning differences,” said Kowcheck, who has been a certified Orton-Gillingham reading practitioner since 2007.

The IDA Standards provide a framework for course content in university and other teacher preparation programs, offering 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.

“We are delighted to see this third group of teacher preparation programs meet the rigorous requirements for IDA accreditation, as well as to see increasing numbers of programs demonstrating an interest in seeking IDA accreditation,” said Louise Spear-Swerling, Ph.D., vice president of the CERI Board of Directors and Area Coordinator for the Graduate Program in Learning Disabilities at Southern Connecticut State University. “Effective teachers can make an enormous difference in children’s literacy outcomes.”

During the 2016 accreditation, three independent reviewers were assigned to each participating university to evaluate their programs. The WLU review included a thorough look at course syllabi and other course materials and requirements, interviews with program directors, and site visits to the university and the Center for Multisensory Learning.

“Our goal is to make sure teachers are better prepared to teach reading in our schools so that all students acquire the highest levels of literacy and thrive,” said Liz Liptak, executive director of CERI. “We believe that everyone can reach their full potential when they receive the right instruction and support.”

CERI also offers individual certification for teachers based on the IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. These include Structured Literacy Teacher and Structured Literacy Interventionist certifications.

An international, non-profit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia as well as related language-based learning differences, the IDA began reviewing university reading programs in 2012. A complete list of the 26 currently accredited programs can be found on IDA’s website at

For more information on West Liberty University’s Master’s in Education’s reading track, please contact Dr. Leann Elkins at WLU’s Highlands Center, 304.217.2800 or [email protected]. Or visit