A smiling teacher high fives a student at the end of a reading lesson

Qualified teachers in Iowa can become dyslexia specialists by completing an endorsement program coordinated by the Iowa Reading Research Center.

Why Should I Become a Dyslexia Specialist?

Reading proficiently is a critical skill for students’ academic success, socio-emotional well-being, and future career opportunities. However, the International Dyslexia Association states that as much as 15–20% of the general population demonstrate some characteristics of dyslexia, and assessment results from the 2023 Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) indicate that a third of Iowa’s third graders are not reading proficiently. Educators who are trained to identify and support students with dyslexia play a crucial role in improving literacy proficiency in Iowa. 


Educators who complete the Iowa Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement will be able to:

  • identify students with characteristics of dyslexia 
  • administer diagnostic assessments to identify students’ areas for improvement and use assessment data to guide instruction
  • implement instructional routines designed to address students’ specific skill gaps
  • interpret research findings and understand their practical implications
  • apply knowledge and practice standards in the Iowa core throughout the MTSS tiers and within the special education system 
  • support district decision-making processes for selecting instructional materials

Program Admission Requirements

  • At least three years of teaching experience in a K-12 setting
  • Admission to the University of Iowa as a nondegree graduate student
  • Completion of the program application form with accompanying required documents

Program Deadlines

New application deadline extension: Applications for the fall 2024 cohort are due by July 26, 2024.

For complete program details including required coursework, deadlines, and instructions on how to apply, visit the University of Iowa College of Education’s Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement program page.

Scholarship Opportunities

The Iowa Reading Research Center (IRRC) will offer a $3,000 scholarship to all students enrolled in the University of Iowa’s Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement Program, to be divided across the four semesters of the program. 

In addition to this scholarship, the IRRC will match funding provided by the enrolled student’s school district up to $1,000

School districts interested in providing financial support to individuals enrolled in the program should contact the IRRC at irrc@uiowa.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who Is This Endorsement Intended for?

A: This endorsement is intended for certified Iowa educators.

Q: Are Classes Held Virtually or In-Person?

A: The program is of a hybrid format consisting of mostly synchronous virtual classes and a monthly meeting in a centralized location (typically Des Moines or Iowa City, depending on the locations of the enrolled students). One course is online and asynchronous. The two practicum experiences are in-person at locations with approved cooperating teachers.  

Program Coursework Schedule

SemesterCredit HoursCOURSES
Fall Year 16
  • PSQF:4740 Issues in K-12 Assessment (online and asynchronous)
  • EDTL:6164 Early Literacy Development and Instruction
Spring Year 13EDTL:6171 Advanced Reading Clinic: Techniques (some in-person meetings required)
  • EDTL:5083 Diagnostic Reading Instruction (some in-person meetings required)
  • EDTL:7008 Research and Current Issues: Dyslexia Theory and Practice (online and asynchronous)
Fall Year 23EDTL:6172 Advanced Reading Clinic: Practicum

Q: How Is the Endorsement Classified in Terms of Level of Education?

A: This is a post-baccalaureate endorsement, and the coursework is at the graduate level. However, this is a non-degree program. Students would need to work with an advisor of a master’s program to determine how the coursework would be counted toward completion of a graduate degree.

Q: Can I Apply Coursework From the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement Program Toward Earning a Master’s Degree?

A: Yes. Up to 12 semester hours of coursework from the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement Program can be applied toward the 100% online Master of Arts in Teaching, Leadership, and Cultural Competency (MATLCC) at the University of Iowa College of Education.

Applicable Program Coursework to Be Applied Toward the MATLCC

CourseCourse TitleRequired or Elective for MATLCC?Semester Hours
PSQF:4740Issues in K-12 AssessmentRequired3
EDTL:5083Diagnostic Reading InstructionElective3
EDTL:6164Early Literacy Development and InstructionElective3
EDTL:7008Seminar: Research and Current Issues: Dyslexia Theory and PracticeElective3
Total semester hours toward MATLCC = 12

With 12 semester hours applied toward the MATLCC, Dyslexia Specialist Endorsees would have 21 semester hours remaining, which would typically be completed in 4 semesters.

Endorsees wishing to enter the MATLCC program must apply and be admitted to the Graduate College and email Coordinator of Graduate Student Admissions Anne Sparks (anne-sparks@uiowa.edu) to express their interest in applying their semester hours. For more information, visit the MATLCC program website.

Q: How Is This Endorsement Different From the Reading Endorsement and the Reading Specialist Certificate?

A: This endorsement will focus solely on dyslexia and the reading development of students with dyslexia. The Reading Endorsement can be completed as an undergraduate, concurrently with initial teacher licensure. The Reading Specialist Certificate requires the completion of a master’s degree. Neither the Reading Endorsement nor the Reading Specialist Certificate are specific to the issues experienced by students with dyslexia.

Can I Apply for the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement Program With Previous Coursework?

A: Yes. To apply, you will need to complete the “Application to Recognize Non-Iowa Reading Research Center Approved or Out-of-State Coursework for the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement” showing that your experience and training meet the State of Iowa requirements for endorsees. If educators have the right qualifying coursework and meet all other criteria, they may receive the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement without needing to complete any additional coursework.

Email the completed application packet to irrc@uiowa.edu. If approved by the IRRC, you will provide your IRRC approval letter and Iowa Board of Educational Examiners coursework form to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners for formal approval of previous coursework toward the endorsement.

Q: The Courses Seem to Be the Same as Those in the Reading Specialist Certificate Program, so Will My Previous Coursework Count Toward the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement?

A: The course prefixes, numbers, and titles of the Dyslexia Endorsement and Reading Specialist Certificate are similar. However, the content could be very different. Because the Dyslexia Endorsement has to satisfy new rules that have not previously existed, it is not likely that previous coursework would meet the expectations of the new endorsement. To ensure that the courses for the Dyslexia Endorsement are aligned to the rules, special sections of those classes have been created and operate under different syllabi than those used in the Reading Specialist Certificate program. The overlap in course prefixes, numbers, and titles is intended to create a pathway for participants to work toward the Reading Specialist Certificate in the future. This will depend on the willingness of the Reading Specialist Certificate program to accept the Dyslexia Endorsement coursework and credits.  

Q: Will College Credit Earned as Continuing Education Units from Vendor Training (e.g., Training on a Specific Curricular Program) Be Accepted Toward Coursework in the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement?

A: Vendor training is not recommended as a substitute for coursework to earn a new endorsement. Vendors have specific purposes related to their programs or proprietary products. The goal of the endorsement program is to equip educators with the knowledge and skills to identify and address the needs of students with characteristics of dyslexia, regardless of the materials that are available to them in their schools. In addition, the coursework for the endorsement is aligned to the rules approved by the State Board of Educational Examiners, whereas vendors are not obligated to address all the rules. Therefore, it is unlikely that credits earned for vendor training will be accepted in lieu of endorsement coursework.

Q: Who Teaches the Classes?

A: Classes are taught by faculty in the University of Iowa College of Education and adjunct faculty working with the Iowa Reading Research Center. With the exception of the assessment class that is taught by faculty in the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, all of the courses on reading development and dyslexia are taught by individuals with at least three years of teaching experience and experience working with children with dyslexia.

Q: How Long Will It Take to Complete the Endorsement?

A: A year and a half (three semesters during two consecutive academic years and the intervening summer session).

Q: What Are the Requirements for Completing the Endorsement?

A: This is an 18-credit hour endorsement that includes coursework and practicum experiences in assessment and instruction. Candidates must perform satisfactorily in all classes and demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills on summative assessments.

Q: How Many People Will Be Accepted Into Each Cohort?

A: Each cohort will consist of no more than 30 educators.

Q: What Is Considered Beyond the Basic Requirements for Selection Into the Program?

A: Applicants write a statement of interest and provide two letters of recommendation. Geographical distribution is a consideration to best meet the needs of the entire state.

Q: What Is the Cost of Completing the Program?

A: Cost estimates are below, but these are only estimates.  Actual costs are subject to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa’s policies, which can change annually.

SemesterCredit HoursEstimated Cost
Fall Year 16$4,300
Spring Year 16$4,300
Fall Year 23$2,200
(potentially about $13,400 with an anticipated tuition increase)

Please note that the IRRC will offer a $3,000 scholarship to all students enrolled in the UI program, to be divided across the four semesters of the program. In addition, the IRRC will match funding provided by the enrolled student’s school district up to $1,000. 

Q: Can the Practica Be Completed as Part of an Educator’s Regular Teaching Responsibilities?

A: The practica are done under the supervision of an approved cooperating teacher and will need to occur in either a one-on-one or small-group setting, depending on the focus of the practicum. These need to take place during the day but may not be possible to combine with typical duties. That will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Can Eligible Educators From Other States Enroll in the Program?

A: Yes, the Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement program is open to any certified educator with at least 3 years of experience. Should there be limited space in an annual cohort, Iowa educators will have priority in order to meet the state’s needs for assisting students with characteristics of dyslexia.


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