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EIU Media Relations

Eastern Illinois University playing vital role in enhancing literacy in Illinois


EIU training future teachers to utilize evidence-based literacy instruction that advances State, regional initiatives

(Charleston, IL) – Eastern Illinois University continues to do its part to support statewide learning and engagement initiatives by providing future teachers with the tools and resources they need to enhance literacy across the State.

In 2023, Illinois adopted Public Act 103-0402, which codified the Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) Comprehensive Literacy Plan. The plan serves as a roadmap to enhance and unify literacy instruction efforts statewide and was designed to ensure all students receive developmentally appropriate and evidence-based literacy training. While EIU’s College of Education has long upheld the benefits of high-quality literacy instruction, EIU leaders are placing additional emphasis on its importance now that it is backed by law.

“EIU focuses on preparing future teachers who will meet and exceed standardized expectations,” said Dr. Laretta Henderson, Dean of EIU’s College of Education (COE). “Our students leave EIU prepared to tackle modern teaching challenges with innovative, research-based and consequential solutions.”

To answer the call, Henderson and other COE leaders helped to establish a Literacy Committee at EIU in Fall 2023. Melissa Jones, Professor in the Department of Special Education and lead author of the Illinois Dyslexia Handbook (released in 2023) chairs the committee and is tasked with ensuring EIU remains on the proper trajectory to meet those modern challenges.

“We were excited to bring Dr. Cara McDermott-Fasy to campus in Spring 2024 to talk about the critical actions teacher preparation programs can take to support literacy initiatives for our students,” Jones said. “How we’re preparing future educators today will have a monumental impact on how children will be taught tomorrow and years into the future.”

McDermott-Fasy is an Associate Professor at Rhode Island College and a leading authority on transformative enhancements to literacy programming in education. She visited EIU in March 2024 to work with the committee to analyze and recommend needed revisions to the literacy curriculum across preparation programs.

“For example,” Jones said, “our approach might include examining how we’re structuring our curriculum at EIU to achieve federal, State, and organizational goals that maximize literacy outcomes for the districts and locales our graduates serve. And what better time to do that than now—using Plan 2028 to intentionally guide our efforts in these key areas.”

Plan 2028 is EIU’s most recent five-year collaborative strategic plan, which was sanctioned by EIU’s Board of Trustees in summer 2023. It focuses on addressing four key themes that achieve multiple objectives. As an example—enhanced literacy training might support specific Plan 2028 goals that focus on increasing opportunities for and involvement in high-impact academic experiences that eliminate structural outcome gaps.

To further these efforts, Jones and other members of EIU’s Literacy committee are actively meeting with leaders in other COE departments to share recommendations that support EIU’s commitment to meeting the ISBE’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan timeline and to create evidence-based results that meet EIU and ISBE expectations.

“Our hope is to have some of the courses revised and to introduce other program-specific revisions that can be reviewed by ISBE and the Illinois Board of Higher Education for approval as early as summer 2025,” Jones said. “This work is important, and we are excited to support these efforts to uphold the State of Illinois’ commitments to literacy training.” Additionally, Jones said EIU plans to offer professional development opportunities and resources to faculty as well as professional partners in local schools and to play our part in ensuring all students across our state and beyond receive equitable, high quality literacy instruction.

Continuous improvement is a central theme to EIU’s Plan 2028, and mirrors broader strategic goals already established by the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s “A Thriving Illinois” strategic plan and the ISBE’s commitment to creating equitable learning opportunities for all students.

EIU prepares students to accomplish their life goals through a combination of quality academics, personal relationships, and both on-campus and online learning opportunities. For more information about Eastern Illinois University, including its broad array of academic and career readiness programs, or any of EIU’s other community-based services and opportunities, visit or call EIU’s public information office at (217) 581-7400.




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Contact Information

Media Relations
Josh Reinhart,
Public Information Coordinator

Booth House
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920

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