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Alabama educator prep programs work to improve literacy instruction


Alabama educator prep programs work to improve literacy instruction

Nov 29, 2023 | 12:35 pm ET
By Jemma Stephenson
Alabama educator prep programs work to improve literacy instruction
A few of the books in the young adult section of the Ozark - Dale County Library Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023 in Ozark, Ala. (Stew Milne for Alabama Reflector)

Educator preparation programs have reworked their approaches since a report from a Mississippi-based literacy organization made recommendations.

The Barksdale Reading Institute, an organization with the goal of improving literacy in Mississippi, found that many educator preparation programs were not in compliance with the literacy instruction standards under Alabama law. While only seven schools had to come again before the State Board of Education, all educator preparation programs in the state have worked to improve their literacy instruction.

Alethea Hampton, administrator for educator preparation, said in a phone interview Wednesday that programs in the state have worked to improve including through having field experience for students, professional development for staff and adjusting syllabi. Programs were required to submit narratives and artifacts– such as those adjusted syllabi or videos– throughout the process.

“All of the EPPs made significant changes to demonstrate that they were making progress in those regards,” she said.

Hampton said the four biggest things that the programs have done is show evidence that their faculty has sought training in the science of reading; shown that syllabi, including field experience, are now aligned with science of reading; chosen textbooks that have high marks for science of reading and had opportunities for modeling of instruction.

Hampton said there were recommendations for each of the institutions in reports from the Barksdale Reading Institute.

According to the statewide report said that only 23% of courses in the state are fully aligned to the Science of Reading and that 44% of interviewed faculty could not define “explicit, sequential and systemic instruction.”

Hampton said that faculty have made progress in professional development through LETRS training and through Science of Reading conferences in the state.

LETRS training is a professional development program for instruction in the science of reading.

The science of reading is an interdisciplinary body of research that studies reading and writing instruction. Under the Reading League’s definition, letter awareness and phonemic instruction would be scientifically-based instruction. Memorization of whole words would not be a practice supported by scientific evidence.

“They had to demonstrate proficiency toward meeting the recommendations provided by Barskdale,” she said.

In June 2022, the Barksdale Institute announced that it would be closing, according to the Magnolia Tribune.

This story was updated at 4:17 p.m. to correct the spelling of Alethea Hampton..