Notre Dame receives Lilly Endowment grant for advancement of Science of Reading curriculum

Author: Sue Ryan

Main Building framed by Notre Dame Avenue trees. Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame.

The University of Notre Dame has received a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative Advancing Science of Reading in Indiana to support the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) in its teacher preparation program.

Lilly Endowment launched the Advancing Science of Reading in Indiana initiative in 2022. It complements a statewide effort undertaken that year by the Indiana Department of Education to improve reading achievement in K-12 schools by helping current teachers implement Science of Reading-aligned principles in their classrooms. Science of Reading is interdisciplinary research that informs how students become proficient in reading and writing, with a focus on phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

At Notre Dame, the grant will directly impact ACE Teaching Fellows enrolled in the two-year, master’s degree-granting teacher preparation program, which integrates graduate-level coursework with immersion as full-time teachers in under-resourced Catholic elementary and secondary schools in 35 cities throughout the United States.

“Nothing matters more for the life chances of students than developing a lifelong passion for reading,” said John T. McGreevy, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame. “We’re honored to receive support for this effort to help students through evidence-based research on what works to improve reading fluency.”

Led by Kati Macaluso, academic director of the ACE Teaching Fellows program, the new effort at Notre Dame will integrate Science of Reading methodology through three strategies, including revising reading methods curricula and incorporating Science of Reading principles in other subject area and methods courses; redesigning and scaling ACE’s summer practicum programming to create clinical experiences that offer practice in all five components of effective reading instruction, which impacts both ACE students and the Indiana-licensed classroom teachers mentoring them; and using Notre Dame’s undergraduate-to-ACE teacher preparation program pipeline to offer pre-training preparation in Science of Reading fundamentals.

“We are so grateful to have been entrusted by our friends at Lilly Endowment to enhance our teacher preparation efforts in ways that will make lasting differences in the literate lives of children,” Macaluso said. “The faculty and teachers of the Alliance for Catholic Education look forward to taking next steps in improving reading achievement through this project that rests at the intersection of teacher formation, cognitive science and an ethical imperative to deliver on the promise of every child’s right to read.”

Beyond Notre Dame students, Macaluso anticipates ACE’s faculty and the licensed teachers in Indiana Catholic schools who serve as clinical partners will increase their expertise and credentials in Science of Reading-aligned methods, ensuring that educators at all levels of the program are able to advocate for this approach.

“It is imperative that more of Indiana’s elementary students learn to read proficiently, and it is essential that current teachers and the next generation of teachers are prepared to use proven principles to teach reading in their classrooms,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “We are pleased therefore to help Indiana colleges and universities strengthen the use of these research-based principles to teach reading in their teacher preparation programs.”

Notre Dame is one of 28 Indiana colleges and universities that received grants from Lilly Endowment to support efforts that integrate Science of Reading-aligned principles into teacher preparation programs. In 2022, the Endowment made a $60 million grant to the Indiana Department of Education to support that work with school districts and teachers across the state.