NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University’s James I. Perkins College of Education was awarded a grant to create literacy-focused learning modules for teacher candidates that are meant to enhance their ability to teach reading once they enter the field.
Awarded by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation in partnership with Deans for Impact, the grant program also includes Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M University-Texarkana. SFA’s grant representatives are Ronda McClain, lecturer; Dr. Lauren Burrow, associate professor; and Dr. Adam Akerson, associate professor, all of the Department of Education Studies.
“We are excited to partner with other universities in East Texas to support the preparation of preservice teachers,” McClain said. “Equipping the next generation of early childhood educators to deliver effective literacy instruction using research-based, pedagogically sound methods is the goal of this project.”
With the grant funds, SFA representatives intend to create learning modules that can be used within a standard college course to train teacher candidates in the use of phonics rather than whole word methods when teaching children how to read. SFA and its partners were chosen because the program is aimed primarily at increasing literacy rates in rural communities, a specialty of all three universities.
Issued in the face of falling literacy rates triggered in part by the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the grant includes stipends for participating faculty members. During the pilot phase, pre- and post-testing data will be used to fine-tune the program, with the hope that the full pilot can be implemented by spring 2023.
“It is our hope this effort will provide intentional, systematic support to preservice teachers who are hired for early childhood classroom positions in the rural East Texas area within the next few years,” McClain said.
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