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MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Adolescent Literacy

The only good thing regarding what you’re about to read is this: you can do something about it. In 2015, 66 percent of all eighth-grade students, 85 percent of black students, and 79 percent of Hispanic students failed to perform proficiently in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Still today, students struggling with comprehension aren’t getting the support they need to successfully advance in school and in life. If that keeps you up at night, gain the skills to help them.

Concordia’s MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Adolescent Literacy program prepares you to lead the development and support of adolescent literacy in schools, districts, and community-based settings. You’ll study everything from intervention strategies and the use of technology to essential elements needed to teach reading.

Accredited, nonprofit, and taught by practitioners, all of Concordia’s online MEd programs reflect the same meaningful experience we’ve been delivering on campus since 1905. The convenience of 100 percent online, clearly defined coursework — paired with realistic deadlines and the ability to immediately apply what you learn in your classroom — makes our programs ideal for busy lifestyles. And the potential career benefits — from higher pay to promotions — are second only to the reward of having an everlasting impact on the lives of your students.

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Step 1 of 3: What type of student are you?

Step 2 of 3: What would you like to study?

Step 3 of 3: Get info about this program

Yes! By submitting this form I ask to receive email, texts and calls about degree programs on behalf of Concordia University-Portland, and agree automated technology may be used to dial the number(s) I provided. I understand this consent is not required to enroll.
October 28th
Program Length 1 Year
Credits 30 Credit Hours
Accreditation NWCCU
SCHOLARSHIPS* Up to $4,000
100% online
100% online (no in-person field work required)
One year
Earn your MEd in one year, one class at a time, with built-in breaks
Updated curriculum
Curriculum is up-to-date and relevant
Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Concordia is one of the most respected names in learning today
Positive career benefits
87% of our online MEd grads report positive career benefits as a result of their degree
20,000-strong alumni
20,000-strong alumni network
93% of our online MEd grads say they are satisfied with their overall academic program experience

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Adolescent Literacy Program Goals

In addition to meeting the objectives and requirements for the MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Adolescent Literacy online degree program, successful candidates will also demonstrate:
Expertise in Evaluating Progress

Expertise in Evaluating Progress

Expertise in the utilization of new methods of authentic assessment and strategies as tools to evaluate student learning progress in relation to Oregon’s Common Core State Standards and specific district standards

Effective Instructional Skills

Effective Instructional Skills

Effective instructional skills in planning, implementing, and assessing instruction in settings that include diverse cultural populations and special needs students

Classroom Diversity Skills

Classroom Diversity Skills

An understanding of the ways that the specific curricular/instructional area has the potential to be responsive to classroom diversity

Moral Leadership

Moral Leadership

A clear understanding of the moral leadership required of them as advanced scholars in the chosen area of curriculum and instruction



The ability to modify instructional plans and promote alternative goals and strategies when necessary, particularly in relation to assessment results


The MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Adolescent Literacy is a 30 credit-hour program

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Core Courses
12 credits

This course will provide teachers with the resources and skills necessary to integrate character themes and character development into their school curriculum. Course provides a forum in which to discuss and develop one's own moral perspectives on the basis of generally accepted criteria.

This course is designed to provide leaders with the latest psychological research about learning and guide them in exploring ways to directly apply these precepts to their current work setting. Topics include cognitive science, learning theory, and relevant teaching theories that utilize this information. The course fuses the latest biological and psychological understanding of how the brain learns so candidates can harness this knowledge and apply it directly to learning situations.

Course challenges candidates to confront the tremendous diversity in their current environment and develop strategies to build community in the midst of the social, ethnic, economic, and alternative lifestyle differences that permeate today's 21st century workplace. Course stresses the critical importance of creating community in the workplace and illustrates how that community can generate an efficient, supportive, and positive workplace.

Candidates identify, review, and analyze major trends and issues impacting the contemporary state and national educational scenes. Each class session provides students with an opportunity to evaluate the advantages and liabilities of current educational reforms and issues from the perspective of prevailing educational research as well as from their own personal beliefs and current work environment. Candidates will also consider how they can impact and influence change in their own workplace.


Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.

MEd in Curriculum & Instruction - Adolescent Literacy
12 credits

Focus of adolescent literacy skills and an examination of the sources of challenges to adolescent literacy will be completed. Educators will gain an understanding of the characteristics and needs across the range of students who face challenges in adolescent literacy including struggling readers, reluctant readers, English language learners, students with learning disabilities, and returning young adults. Research-based approaches and best practices to address the challenges of adolescent literacy will be presented.

Candidates will, through an interdisciplinary approach, learn how language is acquired from birth through a child’s developmental years. Since children are developing their cognitive, perceptual, social, and motor skills at the same time their linguistic systems and specific language repertoire is growing, this study will involve the diverse fields of neurobiology, ethology, naturalistic and experimental child psychology, cognitive psychology, and theoretical and applied computer science.

The elements essential to the teaching of reading in the academic disciplines will be addressed in this course. Content-embedded instructional practices that improve disciplinary literacy, the use of strategic tutoring, continuous progress monitoring through the use of ongoing formative assessment, data-based decision making and the development of a comprehensive interdisciplinary literacy program are a few of the features of an effective academic literacy program that will be studied.

The use of transformative intervention strategies and the innovative use of technology resources to support and improve adolescent literacy are the focus of this course. Electronic references, video supports, digital text, text-to-speech, spell checkers, word prediction software, along with how students can adapt the technology used in their daily lives are examples of resources that will be examined for their application in transformative intervention strategies used to improve adolescent literacy.

Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.

Research Course 1
3 credits

This course provides students with the basic competencies necessary to understand and evaluate the research of others, and to plan their own research with a minimum of assistance. This course includes the basics of both qualitative and quantitative research.

The Master of Education culminates with the choice of either EDGR 698-Action Research or EDGR 696-Practitioner Inquiry. Either option provides candidates with an understanding of the role of research in the field of education as a tool to solve problems and as a way to improve student learning.


Research Course 2
3 credits   Select one of the following:

Practitioner Inquiry focuses on the reflective acts of the candidate as an educator seeking to improve teaching practice. Premised on the self-study research methodological traditions, Practitioner Inquiry provides the opportunity to reflect on teaching practice and generate improvements based on classroom observation. Practitioner Inquiry is focused on the educator and her/his own practices, developing skills of inquiry, observation, reflection, and action in teachers.

Prerequisites: EDGR 601 with a B- or higher

Candidates will learn more about the action research methodology, complete final edits of the literature review, and design a complete action research proposal including data collection methods and analysis approaches. During this course, the proposal will not be implemented with students/participants. This design provides candidates with the requisite skills and means to pursue the transformative practice called Action Research in their classroom, school, district or other work environment.

Prerequisites: EDGR 601 with a B- or higher

Please note: Completing a Master of Education degree program does not lead to state certification or licensure. The MEd is not designed or intended to lead in any way toward a teaching license, endorsement, or administrative credential.


In addition to fully online, Concordia offers several Master of Education programs in an on-campus or hybrid format. See the options here.

Is the MEd in Adolescent Literacy concentration right for me?

Consider choosing this path if:

  • You’re committed to helping readers of all kinds understand what they’re reading
  • Your school has adolescent literacy challenges and you want to solve them
  • You love reading yourself, and want others to experience that joy

Still unsure? We know we offer a lot of programs! Let’s talk more about your professional and personal goals.

Child Learning
The information and textbooks utilized were excellent resources which I can use in my professional library.
STEPHEN CRAWFORD, MEd in Curriculum & Instruction:
Adolescent Literacy '14

More on the Topic of Literacy

What makes this program so relevant today

Here are some worrisome facts about the literacy levels of children and adults in the U.S.

  • In 2015, more than one-third of 4th and 8th graders performed at or above proficient in reading. At the 8th grade level, 44% of Caucasian students, 16% of black students and 21% of Hispanic students scored proficient.
    —U.S. Department of Education’s 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows that adolescent literacy levels have remained relatively “flat” for decades. 
    —National Center for Education Statistics
  • While literacy skills of the typical American teenager haven’t improved since the 1970s, the demand for literacy skills has increased dramatically.
    —The Scope of the Adolescent Literacy Crisis by Rafael Heller, Ph.D.
  • More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third grade level.
    — ProLiteracy
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out.
    — National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
  • 75% of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as “low literate.” 
    — Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education

Illiteracy is rooted in various and often interconnected causes. The source of reading problems among young adults includes: biological disorders, lack of literature to read, economics, and external traumatic circumstances.

Reading and writing disorders
Reading and writing disorders affect students’ ability to learn and progress in reading. These disorders include dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dysorthography (a specific comprehension deficit).

Lack of books in the home:
According to the international study Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success: Books and Schooling in 27 Nations, the more books present in a home, the higher a child’s education will be. Even just 20 books — any books — present in a child’s home have a large impact on their trajectory to higher education.

According to the Heart of America Foundation, 61% of families living in poverty do not have children’s books in their homes. Consequently, children living in poverty already have a 50% weaker vocabulary than their wealthier peers at the start of school.

Poverty can adversely affect a child’s cognitive development and academic performance. “Poor health, a scarcity of food, housing instability, and unsafe environments are all additional challenges that children living in poverty often encounter.”
— Seattle PI

Interrupted Education
Students who have experienced inconsistent schooling or disruptions in their education due to poverty, war, or immigration can fall severely behind their peers in reading. This is especially true when a student is not fully literate in their native language and then must learn another.

Multigenerational Family Illiteracy
“Education is a family issue, and a mother’s education is the best indicator of whether a child is going to be successful or not.”
– Katharine Winograd, Central New Mexico Community College

Of the 93 million adults in the U.S. functioning at or below basic levels of literacy, 30 million are the parents or primary caregivers of children ages 0-8. The effects of low literacy – dropping out of school, minimum wage jobs, and homelessness – are cyclical, continuing from one generation to the next. This multi-generational problem needs a multi-generational solution— family literacy.
— National Center for Family Literacy

Language Barriers
Language barriers resulting from increased immigration have contributed to lower literacy rates in modern America. 41% of adult immigrants score at or below the lowest level of English literacy and 28% have not completed high school, limiting access to higher education, employment, and increasing the likelihood of living in poverty.
— The Center for Immigration Studies

Literacy is an authentic and complex social justice issue as it determines many of the factors that contribute to a student’s future quality of life. The work we do every day as teachers is part of the solution to this crisis.

Low literacy is said to be connected to over $230 billion a year in healthcare costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, incurring higher costs.
— American Journal of Public Health

Current labor market trends, demographics, and student achievement data are combining to create a “perfect storm” that could inflict lasting damage upon the nation’s economy and upon its social fabric.
— Educational Testing Service

“Black and Latino students are roughly two to three years of learning behind Caucasian students of the same age.” McKinsey’s research showed that the achievement gap can lead to “heavy and often tragic consequences, via lower earnings, poorer health and higher rates of incarceration.”
—  McKinsey & Company’s The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools

Minority and immigrant groups are growing in population, but remain low in educational achievement. The National Commission on Adult Literacy’s recent report claims that 1 in 3 people in the U.S. drop out of high school, and that 1 in 4 American families is considered low-income with parents who lack education and skills to improve their economic status. This maintains a cycle of poverty, affecting each new generation of children.
National Commission on Adult Literacy

Education gaps have contributed more than recessions have to trillions in GDP losses for the United States. The widening literacy gap, the perpetuation of poverty, and a resultant expanding unskilled workforce in the coming years are on track to produce economic, social and health-related results that could be dreadful for the United States as a developed nation.
—  McKinsey Research

Individuals with higher levels of literacy were more likely to be employed in fulltime positions and earn higher wages, and were also less likely to have received public assistance during their adulthood. Individuals with higher levels of literacy also were more likely to report that they obtained information about current events, public affairs, and government by reading, that they voted in elections, and (not surprisingly) that they read to their children.
— National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) (Kutneretal, 2007)

In our Adolescent Literacy concentration, you’ll learn a number of strategies to not only recognize struggling readers in your school, but how to help them improve their reading fluency. You’ll know about:

  • Formal and informal assessment tools for individual learners and groups of students
  • Intervention strategies to build foundational skills in comprehension and fluency using technology, age-appropriate literature, and nonfiction texts
  • How to diagnose and assess reading disorders and disabilities and develop relevant curriculum for students with reading disabilities
  • How to integrate a standards-based literacy program in your school community
  • How to identify the motivating factors behind student literacy struggles and how to address them
  • How to teach literacy acquisition and the construction of meaning (and practical applications and instructional practices for both)
  • The most up-to-date research in the field of adolescent literacy that affects your students
  • How to differentiate adolescent literacy instruction based on student learning needs using engaging, explicit, and multi-sensory instruction (This is the approach that is expected for all students, particularly to help those with dyslexia.)
  • How to design age-appropriate literacy instruction for adolescent readers and those with reading disabilities
  • Content-embedded instructional practices that improve disciplinary literacy
  • How language is acquired from birth through a child’s developmental years


See where an MEd focused on adolescent literacy could take you

Planning to stay in your current teaching job? Many MEd graduates do! But in addition to potential benefits like increased salary and more self-confidence, an MEd could also expand your career opportunities within the education industry.

Potential careers include:

  • Reading or literacy coach
  • Higher education instructor in the teaching of reading
  • Adolescent literacy consultant
  • Advisor to publishers of reading and content area textbooks for middle school/high school instruction
  • Professional development leader, middle school/high school
  • Adolescent literacy program advisor to state legislatures/Congress
  • Reading tutor specializing in adolescent literacy
  • Division or department chair (middle/high school)
  • Director of curriculum & instruction (K–12)
  • Curriculum & instruction leader, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) district or state school intervention team (K–12)
  • Professional development leader (K–12)
  • Division or department chair (K–12)
  • Director/coordinator, reading apprenticeship program (middle/high school)
  • Supplemental educational services provider (tutoring program offered in schools to increase academic achievement)

(Some states may require specific licensure for some of these positions. Check with your state’s Department of Education for more details.)

(888) 986-8148