Ball State University has received a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to further integrate Science of Reading-aligned principles into the University’s teacher preparation programs.

The grant is part of Lilly Endowment’s “Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana” initiative. It will support Ball State’s Teachers College, the largest educator preparation provider in Indiana, in its mission of enabling future teachers to deliver effective literacy instruction that is fair and equitable to every student, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities, while cultivating a lifelong passion for literacy.

“I am grateful to Lilly Endowment for its support of this critical endeavor,” said Dr. Anand R. Marri, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Ball State. “This funding will foster professional development for our Teachers College faculty, who will implement curricular revisions to improve educator preparation programs and develop and lead strategic partnerships to bring more equitable and proficient language and literacy development to our city, region, and state.”

Ball State’s Teachers College faculty teaches scientifically based strategies, such as the Science of Reading (SoR), for differentiating learning experiences that build upon each student’s strengths, while also incorporating their cultural and linguistic backgrounds within the context of literacy instruction. The program equips teacher candidates to proficiently deliver instruction across all language components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing.

The grant from Lilly Endowment will enable Teachers College to effectively implement three critical goals aimed at expanding the integration of the SoR in initial Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Special Education teacher licensing programs, including:

  • Strengthening faculty expertise in SoR through paid professional development, training, and completion of the Knowledge and Practice Examination for Effective Reading Instruction (KPEERI);
  • Securing resources and compensation for faculty time as they revise multiple courses, practicums, and programs to more clearly demonstrate SoR principles; and
  • Providing resources needed to establish a long-term collaborative network with Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) and elementary schools aligned with scientifically based literacy instruction.

These goals and activities will benefit Ball State teacher candidates by enhancing the quality of the program and its alignment with both House Enrolled Act 1558 (HEA 1558) and the principles of the SoR, according to Dr. David McIntosh, interim dean of Teachers College.

“At Ball State University, we view childhood reading proficiency as a crucial developmental achievement,” Dr. McIntosh said. “We are committed to working with Lilly Endowment and the Indiana Department of Education to ensure Indiana’s teachers are equipped to implement evidence-based reading instruction into their classrooms, and that our programs comply with HEA 1558.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana initiative in 2022. It complements a statewide effort undertaken in 2022 by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to improve reading achievement in K-12 schools by helping current teachers implement Science of Reading-aligned principles in their classrooms. In 2022, the Endowment made a $60 million grant to the IDOE to support that work with school districts and teachers across the State of Indiana.

“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.”