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University of Louisville College of Education & Human Development to Create State Reading Research Center 

This article was originally published on the University of Louisville’s news website. 

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has tapped the University of Louisville’s (UofL) College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) to create the Kentucky Reading Research Center, a new entity that will support educators in implementing reliable, replicable reading programs and promote literacy development.  

The project includes a two-year, $6 million contract — one of the largest competitive grant awards in the CEHD’s history — and is renewable for up to five years. 

Executive Vice President and University Provost Gerry Bradley and CEHD Interim Dean Amy Lingo, who will serve as executive director of the Kentucky Reading Research Center when it launches July 1, joined state officials and legislators at Bourbon Central Elementary School in Paris, KY, to announce the project on June 3. 

“KDE looks forward to partnering with the University of Louisville as they establish the statewide reading research center,” said Robin Fields Kinney, interim commissioner of education at KDE. “It is truly a united effort as Kentucky continues its efforts to implement evidence-based, high-quality reading instruction and meet the diverse needs of our youngest readers.” 

The Kentucky Reading Research Center will deliver research and data on high-yield instructional practices and strategies. It will also partner with KDE to establish a research agenda evaluating early reading models, instructional resources, and evidence-based practices needed to help students improve their reading ability. The center will conduct ongoing research on reading programs throughout the state, including their cost, effectiveness, and how well they maintain student progress over time. Based on the annual outcomes of the center, KDE will make recommendations about programming and funding to the Kentucky General Assembly Interim Joint Committee on Education by Oct. 1 every year. 

State Sen. Stephen West (R-27), chair of the Senate Education Committee, sponsored Senate Bill 156, which called for the KDE to establish the new research center, during the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly session. 

“The center will be a welcome addition to our state’s efforts to focus on evidence-based practices and improving statewide reading proficiency outcomes for students,” West said. 

In 2022, West and State Rep. James Tipton (R-53), chair of the House Education Committee, co-sponsored the Read to Succeed Act, which called for a multifaceted approach to improve reading outcomes for all students. The Kentucky General Assembly responded and appropriated $22 million in funding to support the implementation of the act’s comprehensive efforts, among them a statewide reading research center. 

“Early literacy is the foundation for life. It is critical for Kentucky students to be able to read at the highest possible grade level by the end of third grade,” Tipton said. “Our statewide reading research center and Executive Director Amy Lingo are poised to make a significant a contribution to P-20 literacy efforts in our state.” 

Lingo noted that she began her career as a seventh-grade teacher, where she developed a passion for teaching young people to read. Leading the center will bring that passion and expertise full circle. 

“It is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to support our educators and students alike by examining effective strategies and advancing our understanding of literacy education in Kentucky,” Lingo said. 

“The creation of the Kentucky Reading Research Center signifies the university’s proactive stance in addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with literacy education,” she continued. “Through interdisciplinary collaboration, cutting-edge research, and community engagement, we will strive to advance our understanding of reading acquisition, comprehension, and intervention strategies.” 

Bradley conveyed support for the center on behalf of the university and acknowledged the talented CEHD faculty who play a key role in its success. 

“As a premier metropolitan research institution, we leverage our resources and expertise to address the pressing needs of our commonwealth, like reading instruction,” Bradley said. “To be entrusted to create the Kentucky Reading Research Center reaffirms our dedication to scholarly inquiry and our unwavering commitment to enhancing educational outcomes for all.” 

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