UTSA launches next chapter in literacy learning

UTSA launches next chapter in literacy learning

Students from the UTSA Student International Literacy Association and Kappa Delta Pi's Omicron Chi Chapter served as facilitators during the CITL launch workshop on Sept. 17.

(September 20, 2016) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has taken a giant step forward in its ongoing mission to support the improvement of literacy in the San Antonio area and across the State with the opening of The Center for the Inquiry of Transformative Literacies (CITL). The center redevelops La Plaza de Lectura (The Reading Place), a pre-existing UTSA service center that provides services to children who struggle with learning to read, into a formal research center and consolidates the university's many literacy-focused programs under one roof.

Located in the Buena Vista Building on the UTSA Downtown Campus, the goal of the CITL is to improve literacy achievement through research, development and new approaches to literacy instruction. The center is managed by the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD).

The CITL provides opportunities for research activities for UTSA undergraduate and graduate education students, offers research-based professional development for San Antonio area classroom teachers, and provides reading and literacy experiences for children and youth in a way that draws upon their potential. Undergraduate and master reading teachers can also practice teaching literacy at CITL.

"Our mission is to improve the literacy rate of all children," said Misty Sailors, CITL director and UTSA professor of interdisciplinary learning and teaching in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD). "By reclassifying La Plaza as a research center, we can leverage our findings for systemic change to improving literacy not only in our city but in our state and around the world."

The CITL aims to be an international example as a site for top-tier research on teacher education and serve as a resource for the State of Texas. The Nation's Report Card reported in 2015 that only 28 percent of Texas public school fourth graders are proficient readers. The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that 80 percent of Latino fourth graders in the U.S. are reading below grade level.

In addition to its research, the CITL will continue to serve the San Antonio community through its outreach programs, including La Plaza de Lectura, San Antonio Writing Project, Roadrunner Readers, and summer literacy camps.

"The UTSA Center for the Inquiry of Transformative Literacies will allow the College of Education and Human Development to approach the idea of literacy more thoughtfully through research," said Margo DelliCarpini, COEHD dean. "By opening a new research center at COEHD, we can expand the scope and breadth of research opportunities and partnerships within the college, and further UTSA's top-tier mission."

Boosting literacy rates among elementary school students is a priority for University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven. He says the CITL is one more step toward "shining a spotlight" on COEHD.

"The Center for the Inquiry of Transformative Literacy aligns with our System chancellor's series of Quantum Leaps, specifically the Texas Prospect Initiative, which focuses on engaging with key stakeholders involved with improving literacy achievement in Pre-K through 12 education. We want to ensure Texas students are prepared to successfully enter higher education and flourish," said Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA interim vice president for research.

The UTSA Center for the Inquiry for Transformative Literacies is UTSA's 22nd research center, and the second for COEHD.

- Courtney Clevenger


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