WGU Indiana Aims To Boost Literacy Rates Among Young Hoosiers With Support From Lilly Endowment Inc.


INDIANAPOLIS – Western Governors University (WGU) today announced its latest initiative to address Indiana’s low literacy rates by better equipping future educators to tackle this issue among young Hoosiers. This new push comes as the online competency-based university was recently awarded a $98,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to begin planning for the implementation of a new science of reading program into the college’s curriculum. 

The science of reading model is a concept where students learn how to read by focusing more on phonics and how words sound rather than relying on pictures or other words for context. Lilly Endowment’s grant will enable WGU to explore how to revamp its elementary education degree programs to incorporate science of reading into its curriculum. This will include a redesign of its literacy coursework, field-based work and clinicals to integrate science of reading evidence-based strategies into those experiences. The goal is to better prepare teachers to help strengthen students’ reading skills across the state. 

“Workforce development and career readiness are top drivers for WGU when developing curricula for all of our degree programs at WGU,” said Alison Bell, WGU Indiana chancellor. “It is our responsibility to ensure our students are prepared to enter, or re-enter, the workforce well-prepared to exceed the expectations of the field and drive it forward with new ideas and practical application. This grant aligns with that mission and will allow us to better develop our future teachers – who are leading our future generation.”

This grant comes as only 40.7% of Indiana third graders demonstrated proficiency in English and Language Arts on the ILEARN exam in 2022. Furthermore, most recent IREAD-3 scores show roughly 20% of Hoosier third graders do not possess basic foundational reading skills. 

“Third grade is a pivotal moment in a child’s educational journey because they are no longer learning how to read, but instead reading to learn. This isn’t a skill a student leaves behind once they graduate from high school; it’s a vital lifeline they will rely on to navigate the world and to communicate and gather information,” said Roben Daubler, WGU School of Education program chair. “As educators, we must do everything we can to set our students up for success both in the classroom and the world outside of it. Implementing the science of reading into our programs can help us reach that goal.”

WGU’s competency-based education measures learning rather than time spent in class. This allows learners to earn career-enhancing degrees while meeting work and family obligations. Students complete their programs by studying on schedules that fit their lives, advancing as soon as they demonstrate that they have mastered course materials. Many students are able to apply prior learning and work experience to help them accelerate their time to earning a degree, saving both time and money.

For more information about WGU’s School of Education, visit wgu.edu/schoolofeducation. For more information on WGU Indiana, visit wgu.edu/indiana or follow the university on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.


About WGU Indiana

WGU Indiana is an online, competency-based university established to expand access to higher education for Indiana residents. The university offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. Degrees are granted under the accreditation of WGU, which is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), College of Business programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). WGU Indiana has helped over 14,500 Hoosiers achieve their dream of completing a college degree. More than 5,100 students are currently enrolled. Learn more at wgu.edu/indiana.

About the WGU School of Education

The WGU School of Education, the largest nonprofit, accredited school of education in the country, is a champion of next-generation teaching, learning, and leading. The school comprises the Teachers College and the College of General Education, providing a proven, student-centered, competency-based model. The Teachers College currently offers 30 graduate and undergraduate programs, including several programs for initial licensure preparation, and currently enrolls about 35,000 active degree-seeking students. The College of General Education’s innovative portfolio of learning experiences prepares students to succeed in any degree program, as well as any choice of career, by building the knowledge and skills employers seek. The College of General Education serves students starting their degrees in the WGU Teachers College as well as the College of Business, the College of Information Technology, and the Leavitt School of Health.

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