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UHV students to begin careers as diagnosticians for Katy school district

Five of the seven students from the Houston area who completed the University of Houston-Victoria School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development’s educational diagnostician certification program this spring have been hired by the Katy Independent School District to meet the district’s growing need for educational diagnosticians.

Rachel Martinez

“An educator’s goal should be to see that all children have access to the education that is appropriate for them and best meets their needs,” said Rachel Martinez, associate dean of the school and associate professor of special education. “Diagnosticians identify the students’ educational issues so the district can offer the right services. They are important members of the team that works to ensure students receive the help they need to learn effectively, and UHV is proud to see its students move into these important roles.”

In Katy ISD and across much of Texas, the number of testing requests has doubled from the previous school year, Martinez said. School districts across Texas are experiencing a shortage in diagnosticians because the state recognized that districts identified fewer students with disabilities than national averages predicted. To meet the demand, the Katy school district created positions for 15 new diagnosticians, and five of those positions were offered to recent graduates of UHV’s certification program. The remaining two students who completed the program this spring have accepted positions in the districts where they already were working.

Fred Litton

“UHV continues to provide certificated professionals to both the Victoria and Katy market,” said Fred Litton, dean of the school. “This is the heart of our mission at the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. We also are fortunate to have a high-quality faculty to provide the skills necessary for the success of our graduates.”

For Katy resident Lauren Ashley, receiving a certification becoming an educational diagnostician for Katy ISD will bring her career full circle, she said. She earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology in 2003 from Angelo State University and has worked in social work from 2001 to 2012. After that, she began working for the Katy school district as a teacher and then an instructional coach, but she always enjoyed learning about the diagnosing process during her studies.

Lauren Ashley

“Now I’m going to be combining two aspects of both of my field experiences,” Ashley said. “I’ll be diagnosing students who are having trouble with learning and then helping the schools find solutions so they can get the tools they need to succeed. I get to help the most vulnerable students navigate learning in public schools.”

Educational diagnosticians examine students for specific types of learning disabilities such as dyslexia or reading fluency, as well as cognitive or other kinds of disabilities. UHV’s certification program gave students an excellent understanding of effective practices because the instructors used relevant, current examples, Ashley said.

“Most of our courses were taught by Rachel Martinez, who is a practicing diagnostician,” she said. “She made sure we had the most up-to-date information about current practices. She’s been a great mentor to all of us in the program.”

Katy ISD’s decision to offer positions to five of UHV’s students before they officially finished their program makes a powerful statement about the district’s opinion of UHV’s program, Martinez said.

“It’s clear that Katy ISD recognizes that our students are competent and do well in their careers,” she said. “They have hired educational diagnosticians from our program every year, and now some of my early students are mentoring the next group of diagnosticians. Our program’s reputation has grown through word-of-mouth, so we must be doing something right.”

To learn more about the educational diagnostician certification program, go to www.uhv.edu/education/certification-and-professional-development/educational-diagnostician-certification.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities, and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.