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School of Education Joins Carnegie Project; Receives $1 Million Grant

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American University’s School of Education is engaged in two new initiatives as part of its inaugural, online education doctoral program: A $1 million grant will fund early literacy intervention training for doctoral candidates, and the program has joined the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Sarah Irvine Belson, Danielle Sodani, Annie Karabell, and Samantha Cohen a five-year, $1 million grant to fund the Early Literacy Intervention Leads Program, or ELI Leads. The grant will provide funding for eight doctoral candidates in ELI Leads to gain the practical skills and leadership competencies necessary to intervene early on when students are struggling to learn to read. Students in ELI Leads will be part of the doctoral cohort. To complete their ELI Leads doctoral degree, candidates will complete coursework, weekend residencies, internships in D.C. Public Schools, and a problem of practice dissertation focused on a real-world challenge.

“With this grant, doctoral candidates who want to focus on early interventions and literacy will be poised to address students’ needs,” said Samantha Cohen, director of the Ed.D. program. “Learning to read is crucial to success in school and in life. Being able to identify students who are struggling before the third grade and intervene is key before they become disempowered, and potentially disillusioned, about their abilities to succeed in school and beyond.”

Statistics for youth literacy vary from state to state. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, three-quarters of poor readers in third grade remain poor readers in high school and are also more likely to exhibit social and behavioral problems later in school.

In addition to receiving the grant, the School of Education was selected to become a member of The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, a consortium of 115 member institutions that work to ensure that Ed.D. programs prepare educators to meet the educational needs of the 21st century. Members form a network for sharing, learning and providing feedback in a national dialogue across faculty, students and administrators.  

The online education policy and leadership doctoral program focuses on personal leadership, systemic change, social justice, antiracism, research, and policy. A cohort of 15 professionals began classes in August. The program supports education leaders who want to drive systemic change in education and disrupt and transform American education so that disenfranchised and marginalized students are thriving.