JSU’s College of Education and Human Development first to receive Science of Excellence Reading Award

By Anthony Howard

The Jackson State University College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education (EECE) has been awarded the inaugural Science of Reading and Excellence award by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). JSU is the first and only public university to receive this award in the state.

“This exclusive recognition highlights our school’s efforts to implement the best practices aligned with the science of reading and to ensure that our students enter their careers prepared to exercise these practices,” said Jerri Haynes, Ed.D., dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

Earlier this year, the EECE department received an A+ distinction from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) for going above and beyond the standards set by literacy experts for coverage of the most effective methods of reading instruction.

In addition to these two prestigious recognitions, the college became one of 41 educator preparation providers to receive accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

“These distinctions reflect that this is a destination for literacy. The literacy work that has been done the past few years is really going to pave the way for so many,” said JSU Provost Alisa Mosley, Ph.D. “The instructors we’re sending out to the community will have an exponential impact on the students in the school where they will be teaching,”

Being recognized as having Science of Reading excellence demonstrates the EECE department’s dedication to researching the science of reading and gaining validated methodologies to apply in the classroom.

“We’re excited to be able to give them this award,” expressed Kristen Wynn, state literacy director. “They have really worked hard, and they are an exemplary school, one of 48 in the nation, and that’s an accomplishment we want to celebrate.”

Professors in the EECE department attended professional development and training centered around the science of reading to implement the latest methods in their classrooms. Professors Trashonda Dixon, Ed.D. and Tierra Flowers, Ed.D., were praised for attending almost every professional development workshop that MDE offers at the state level.

“The significance of this award highlights the commitment of the faculty in the Department of the College of Education and Human Development, ensuring that our pre-service teachers are being trained in evidence-based reading instruction,” said Flowers, assistant professor of EECE. 

Since 2013, MDE has been promoting the shift to the science of reading in MS K-3 classrooms and has observed significant gains in literacy rates compared to other states nationwide.

There has been collaboration between MDE literacy coaches and EECE professors to ensure students at JSU are knowledgeable and prepared to implement the science of reading practices when they enter classrooms to teach.

“I appreciate the support of the EECE department professors along with the MDE for recognizing the tireless effort made by the faculty here at JSU,” said Flowers.