CoEHS Reading and Writing Education Program among the best in the US

By Alex Pologruto | Jun 13, 2023

Ms. Holly Bloodworth leads her REA 404 students in phonemic instruction.

Ms. Holly Bloodworth leads her REA 404 students in phonemic instruction.

Undergraduate program earns an “A” letter grade in new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality



MURRAY, Ky. – The College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) at Murray State University is pleased to announce that the undergraduate Reading and Writing Education (REA) program has been recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) for its rigorous preparation of future teachers in how to teach reading, earning an “A” grade in NCTQ’s new report.

The program at Murray State is among just 23 percent nationwide and four in Kentucky to earn an “A” from NCTQ for meeting standards set by literacy experts for coverage of the most effective methods of reading instruction, often referred to as the “science of reading.” 

National data shows that more than one-third of fourth grade students, over 1.3 million children, cannot read at a basic level. These devastating results, however, can be changed by preparing teachers in the methods that research has demonstrated to work best.

To evaluate the quality of preparation being provided, a team of experts at NCTQ analyzed syllabi, including lecture schedules and topics, background reading materials, class assessments, assignments and opportunities to practice instruction in required literacy courses for undergraduate elementary teacher candidates in the COEHS. To earn an “A,” programs needed to meet NCTQ’s targets for coverage of the five core components of scientifically based reading instruction — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension — and not teach more than three instructional methods that are unsupported by the research on effective reading instruction. 

While some portion of children will learn to read naturally, over five decades of research have established the components of explicit, scientifically-based reading instruction that help most students become successful readers. Research suggests that over 90 percent of children could learn to read if their teachers used instructional methods grounded in the science of reading. The COEHS is proud to be recognized for its dedication to ensuring that future elementary teachers enter the classroom equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to help students become strong readers.

“Although our program has long been grounded in the five components of literacy, it is important for us to continually analyze, and reflect on what we are teaching in light of current research,” said Holly Bloodworth, an instructor in the Elementary Education program at Murray State. “As faculty, we are committed to providing high-quality, engaging literacy instruction. Additionally, we strive to be responsive to the needs of the schools and districts we serve. We believe our students are an important part of ensuring every child learns to read.”

Accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB), the Elementary Education program prepares students to teach in elementary schools, kindergarten through fifth grade. The four-year preparation program includes courses in University Studies, professional education and elementary teaching methods. Students are certified to teach all regular content areas to K-5 children, and have several opportunities to interact with children in local schools during the professional education courses taken each year of the program.

The new NCTQ analysis of teacher preparation programs’ coverage of the science of reading was developed over the course of two years, involving teams of literacy experts, researchers, teacher preparation leaders and educators. NCTQ evaluated 693 traditional undergraduate and graduate programs across the country, including 15 in Kentucky. Overall, just 112 programs earned an A and 48 earned an A+. 

“The COEHS is pleased with the outcome of NCTQ's analysis of our reading program,” said COEHS Dean, Dr. David Whaley. “Our faculty are exceptional in this area and are highly skilled and experienced. They include one of Kentucky's former teachers of the year and KDE Board member. The graduates of our teacher education program are well grounded in the science of reading and make excellent new teachers throughout the state, the region and the nation. Some of our graduates also go on to teach internationally. I am proud of our reading program and proud that NCTQ has recognized the quality of the teaching and learning that takes place."

For more information on the NCTQ report and the COEHS’s coverage of the science of reading, and the comparison of the REA program to other programs in Kentucky or across the country, please visit

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