Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Opportunities within the Literacy Studies MA program


During 2020, WMU adopted a policy allowing graduate programs to grant credit via Prior Learning Assessments (PLA). This document describes the process developed by the Literacy Studies unit faculty, to review and potentially award credits via PLA for a course within the Masters in Literacy Studies programPlease review this website information carefully.

The faculty identified LS 6240 Reading Assessment and Effective Instruction as a course eligible for PLA credit. LS 6240 is a required course in the Masters in Literacy Studies Program in WMU. For context, see Appendix A which shows the list of required courses in the program and where LS 6240 falls in the sequence. Per WMU policy, PLA credits can be no more than 50% of the total program credits (rounding to the nearest full course as needed). 

Students who believe they have mastered the standards/learning outcomes for LS 6240 must provide sufficient evidence of mastery through a detailed portfolio. 

Application, Portfolio Development & Review Procedures

  1. Interested students must first have applied for or be admitted to the MA in Literacy Studies program.
  2. Contact Dr. Laura Teichert, Program Coordinator, to discuss whether you might be eligible for PLA credits and the PLA process.
  3. Even prior to acceptance to the program, students can complete a PLA Review Application form (available online). To do this, students will need to enroll in a non-credit Portfolio Development Course (offered by WMU), and upon completion of this course, may submit their detailed portfolio. Such portfolio shall offer sufficient evidence of their prior learning demonstrating acquisition of the learning outcomes established for LS 6240.
  4. Enrolling in the Portfolio Development Course costs $400. If the portfolio is reviewed and not awarded credit, students have a one-time opportunity to revise and resubmit their portfolio. Students will be charged $100 for the review of a resubmitted portfolio.
  5. PLA Review Applications and associated evidence may be submitted at any time during an academic year. Applications will be reviewed by at least two faculty members within a 30-day period during the academic year semesters (i.e., fall & spring).
  6. All decisions on any credits awarded are to be made by the Literacy Studies program faculty based on evidence offered by the applicant of prior learning and evaluated using a standard rubric (see Appendix C). 
  7. Any credits awarded will not be placed on a student’s transcript until admitted to a specific graduate degree or certificate program. All such credits will be posted on transcript as “credit earned by PLA examination” without letter grade, and not counted in the grade point average. Such credits can be used to meet all other university graduation requirements (such as minimum number of credits completed at WMU for a given degree).

Program Details, LS 6240 Course Information, and PLA Application Evaluation

Appendix A lists the required courses for the MA in Literacy Studies Program and where LS 6240 falls in the sequence. Appendix B includes a description of LS 6240 and the course learning outcomes. Appendix C presents the associated rubric used to evaluate whether the evidence submitted by the applicant meets such outcomes

Appendix a

MA in Literacy Studies Program Coursework 

  • LS 6100 Theory and Research in Reading and Literacy Instruction
  • LS 6170 Reading in the Content Areas (Disciplinary Literacy)
  • LS 6300 Teaching Reading in a Diverse Society
  • LS 6180 Literacy Acquisition and Reading Instruction
  • LS 6240 Reading Assessment and Effective Instruction
  • LS 6320 Literacy Coaching
  • LS 6400 Clinical Practice for Reading Specialists
  • LS 6420 Action Research Seminar (Capstone) 
  • LS 5980 I Elective 1
  • LS 5980 II Elective 2

Appendix B 

LS 6240 Reading Assessment and Effective Instruction

Graduate students/candidates will use a variety of assessment tools and practices to plan and evaluate effective reading and writing instruction.  Content includes analyzing different types of assessments, learning how to interpret the results, using this information to plan effective instruction for struggling readers, and ultimately communicating this information to a variety of audiences. 

This course conceptualizes reading assessment as a process of becoming informed about learners and their instructional needs. The course focuses on the development of evidence-based individualized learning experiences for struggling readers. Candidates will complete a semester-long reader study (i.e., at least 14 hours) using informal and formal assessments, individual and collaborative instructional design and implementation, observations, and effective communication with peers, parents/families/caregivers, school personnel, and instructors.

Prerequisite: Graduate level LS 6100 Minimum Grade of C, or Graduate level LS 6180 Minimum Grade of C.

This course addresses standards 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 from the International Literacy Association’s Standards for Reading Professionals. Candidates will tutor struggling readers in a supervised practicum using video and GoReact, conduct ongoing assessments and share the final reader study report with parents/families/caregivers and/or schools to make recommendations for continued learning and decision-making.

Course goals

Students in the course will …

  • develop a conceptual framework for linking literacy assessment and instruction using foundational knowledge
  • understand and use appropriate instructional approaches to support language and literacy development with an emphasis on comprehension
  • understand and use various assessment instruments, interpret results, and use data to inform instruction
  • understand the reading/writing connection as part of the interactive nature of language and learning
  • develop skill and ease in diagnostic teaching practices based on sound assessment and best instructional practices
  • develop communication skills in relating students' needs to caregivers, teachers, and other stakeholders
  • use a variety of print and digital resources to support effective instruction
  • analyze your own literacy assessment and instruction
  • communicate with interested parties (caregivers, teachers, schools, clinical supervisors) to gather and share data on assessments, instructional goals, and make recommendations for parents and teachers to support decision-making 
  • seek a variety of professional resources for addressing students' needs in reading, writing and language development
  • understand how to implement and interpret pre- and post- oral reading assessments, standards-based performance tasks, and other required literacy assessments
  • write a professional evaluation of your assessments and tutoring sessions with your tutee
  • reflect on your own and others’ teaching effectiveness in this clinical experience

appendix c

resources and faculty