Goshen College receives Lilly Endowment grant to strengthen reading instruction in teacher preparation programs

GOSHEN, IND. – Goshen College received a $489,915 implementation grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of its Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana (ASRI) initiative. The grant aims to enhance and expand Goshen College’s teacher preparation programs and improve reading instruction on a state level.

Goshen College plans to take several approaches to more fully integrate Science of Reading into its teacher preparation programs, including added emphasis on explicit phonics in literacy coursework, providing enhanced coursework to prepare pre-service teachers for a literacy endorsement, providing more materials for pre-service teachers to use in field placements and establishing additional resource libraries.

“The grant gives faculty opportunities to pursue professional development and resources on the science of reading,” said Dr. Suzanne Ehst, the college’s director of secondary education and a professor of education. “This helps us ensure that we are sending our graduates out into schools with teaching practices that reflect the most up-to-date scholarship on how students learn to read.”

Additionally, the Education Department is developing literacy coursework in an online format to serve career changes in the department’s newly launched remote Transition to Teaching program.

Lilly Endowment Inc. gave a total of more than $21.5 million in grants to 28 Indiana colleges and universities to prepare the next generation of teachers in methods aligned with the Science of Reading.

“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for this funding, which is enabling us to revise courses, provide materials and provide professional development and preparation for new teachers whether they are at the beginning of their career or career changers,” said Dr. Kathy Meyer Reimer, chair of the Goshen College Education Department and director of the elementary education program.

The Science of Reading is a vast body of research related to how children learn to read, and the methods aligned with the research include explicit, systematic and cumulative instruction focused on phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

“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.”

The ASRI initiative complements recent legislative efforts in Indiana, including a law requiring school districts to adopt curricula aligned with Science of Reading methods.

Teachers first licensed after June 2025 in early childhood, elementary generalist and special education will be required to earn a new literacy endorsement demonstrating proficiency in Science of Reading principles.