Dennis Davis, Ph.D., associate professor of literacy education at the NC State College of Education, has been appointed as one of eight Literacy Fellows as part of the UNC System LIteracy Framework Development Initiative.
Research shows that students who are able to read at grade-level by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and ultimately complete a postsecondary degree and achieve economic success in adulthood. However, only 36% of fourth grade students in North Carolina were proficient in reading in 2019.
Using the most relevant research on the essential components of reading, Davis and colleagues from seven UNC System schools will develop a framework that will ensure that all graduates of elementary and special education teacher preparation programs have an in-depth understanding of reading as a process involving the ability to hear and create sounds, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
The initiative stems from a resolution by the UNC Board of Governors to develop a common framework for literacy instruction in teacher preparation that will be adopted by all educator preparation programs in the UNC System.
“I feel honored to be part of this team that will develop a common framework for literacy teacher preparation in the UNC system,” Davis said. “Being part of this initiative has given me a chance to learn more about my colleagues in other institutions. There is so much expertise represented across the universities in our state. It is great that we have a chance to make a collective impact.”
Davis’ research focuses on elementary and middle grades literacy instruction with an emphasis on reading comprehension, assessment and intervention supports for students who have difficulties in reading.
He is currently the principal investigator on a $1.4 million grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to develop a new, small-group intervention for English learners in grades 3 through 5 who have reading comprehension difficulties, as well as on the Yadkin Wolfpack Literacy Partnership project, which uses a cohort-based Master of Education program to enable 20 teachers with Yadkin County Schools to gain the advanced expertise necessary to effectively implement evidence-based literacy instruction.
Davis also runs the Wolfpack Readers Program, an afterschool program that provides tutoring for elementary students with reading difficulties while offering professional development for College of Education graduate students, who provide students with 20-30 hours of intensive and engaging reading instruction based on their needs.
Davis and other Literacy Fellows began developing the new framework in August and will help support the system-wide implementation of the tool when it is completed. The Literacy Fellows will also develop a self-assessment tool that educator preparation programs can use to evaluate the implementation of the new framework.
“North Carolina universities are already doing great work to prepare teachers, and this framework will strengthen that work by providing teacher educators with a shared vision of excellent reading instruction,” Davis said. “I hope this framework has the effect of helping new teachers feel confident and skilled as they leave their teacher preparation programs ready to implement engaging and effective instruction in their classroom.”