Division of Education Implements Literacy Science for All Learning Levels

Walsh Secures State of Ohio Improving Literacy Partnership Grant

In support of the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) ongoing literacy initiative,Walsh University is restructuring its existing reading course curricula to expand reading science for education students and faculty.  Regional partners include school districts and State Support Teams representing Stark, Ashtabula, Columbiana, Holmes, Wayne, Mahoning and Trumbull counties. Walsh will be the first university in Northeast Ohio to implement the program by January 2020.

“Starting this January, Walsh will be the only university in Northeast Ohio featuring reading science as our foundation,” said Walsh Associate Professor of Graduate Education David Brobeck, Ph.D. “We made a commitment to transition our reading program, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, to the science of reading because the research is clear-- it serves all students. Whether the student is an outstanding reader or a reader with challenges, through the science of reading process we can reach them all. And that is ultimately our goal.”

In support of this initiative, Walsh University is one of only seven institutions in the state of Ohio to receive an Ohio Deans Compact on Exceptional Children Improving Literacy Partnership Grant. 

“In addition to positively influencing our education students and faculty, this initiative has a much greater impact that aligns with Walsh’s mission to serve all students. The Walsh initiative will directly benefit statewide regional school and community partners and their families, children and educators,” said Division Chair Dr. Jeannie Defazio. “A digital focus will allow Walsh University to connect and share the evidence-based science of reading approach with families, educators and community members who support literacy development beginning from birth.”

Through grant funding, Walsh University will collaborate locally with Perry Local Schools in the development of reading science practitioners, as well as other outreach to districts served by State Support Teams 5 and 9.

“These courses are building the collective knowledge of teachers across the state to meet the diverse needs of all learners. When we teach children to read using the science of reading, all students learn to read. That's the beauty of a scientific approach to teaching reading,” said Michelle Elia, Ohio Literacy Lead. “We align the instruction to what we have learned through neuroscience, cognitive psychology, linguistics and special education. As such, the impact of Walsh's courses are limitless in terms of the numbers of children that will learn to read.”

According to the ODE, Ohio's Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement serves as a guide to promote evidence-based language and literacy teaching and learning for all learners from birth to grade 12. Literacy acquisition affects learners' access to, and interest in, content at all grade levels and in all aspects of their lives. In light of this, literacy is not treated as a separate field of study or course but instead is layered over all aspects of education.

 “State Support Team, Region 9 is elated that Walsh University is a recipient of the Improving Literacy Partnership Grant,” said Laurie Langenfeld, Associate Director, State Support Team Region 9

Stark County Educational Service Center. “This grant will enable Walsh to restructure existing reading courses based on the science of reading. Graduates will enter the workforce with knowledge and skills that are aligned with Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement.  We are honored to be a community partner in support of this grant.” 

Walsh’s literacy initiative began in spring 2019 when the University began training faculty in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS), hired reading science experts to redesign graduate reading courses and began the conversation to change undergraduate classes to embrace reading science. At that time, Walsh was the only Northeast Ohio site and one of only two higher education institutions in Ohio authorized to host and offer graduate credit for the LETRS program. LETRS training focuses on evidence-based practice for teaching young students and struggling learners at all grade levels how to read, diagnosing reading difficulties, and using data proactively to inform decisions about core instruction and intervention.

Announced on October 29, Improving Literacy Partnership Grant recipients include Cleveland State University, Marietta College, Mount St. Joseph University, Muskingum University, Ohio University and Youngstown State University.

For more information about Walsh University’s Division of Education, visit

For more information about Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literacy Achievement, visit