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Tennessee Department of Education, UT System Establish Tennessee Reading Research Center: A Reading 360 Initiative

Partnership to Study Impact of State’s Comprehensive Literacy Initiative

Tennessee Department of EducationKnoxville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Education and the University of Tennessee System have announced the launch of the Tennessee Reading Research Center, a Reading 360 initiative, to evaluate and independently analyze how the state’s over $100 million investment of optional literacy supports and grants are improving student literacy rates, increasing the use of sounds-first instruction in Pre-K-3 classrooms, increasing the use of high-quality instructional materials, and preparing future educators for literacy instruction. Additionally, the center will analyze the implementation of the Tennessee Literacy Success Act.

On Saturday, March 5th, the department, and UT System announced the launch of the Tennessee Reading Research Center, a Reading 360 initiative, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s final men’s home basketball game, and also celebrated Tennessee Literacy Month. The recording of the announcement will be available here.

Tennessee has prioritized academic gains for students over the past decade, and most recently in the K-12 recovery and student acceleration response to COVID-19 Coronavirus. In January 2020, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Literacy Success Act in the extraordinary special session. This Act laid a policy foundation for literacy in the state for educators, school districts, universities, and communities to focus on improving literacy opportunities and ensure every student builds strong reading skills grounded in phonics.

“In Tennessee, we understand the importance of preparing our future educators for literacy instruction, providing current teachers with access to high-quality instructional materials, and ensuring all our students are proficient readers,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We are thrilled to partner with the University of Tennessee System to establish the Tennessee Reading Research Center to further understand the impact of Reading 360. We look forward to learning together and taking the findings to improve classroom practice and teacher preparation across the state.”

“We are very excited to partner with the Tennessee Department of Education on this statewide initiative,” said Randy Boyd, president of the UT System. “The UT System is in a unique position to solve the grand challenges of our state. With our four undergraduate campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Pulaski, the statewide Health Science Center and our presence in all 95 counties through the UT Institute of Agriculture, we are truly able to reach every corner of our state to improve literacy efforts.”

Reading 360 is the state’s comprehensive literacy initiative to provide optional grants and resources to help more Tennessee students develop strong phonics-based reading skills by supporting districts, teachers, families, and communities.

The Tennessee Reading Research Center will focus on current data collected from the programming happening in classrooms, colleges, and communities statewide as part of the state’s comprehensive literacy initiative, Reading 360. In addition to the effectiveness of Reading 360 programming, the center will also ensure the requirements of the Tennessee Literacy Success Act are met. 

Components of the Reading 360 initiative are funded with federal COVID-19 relief and stimulus funding. To access additional resources on Reading 360, click here.

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