University of Pikeville Program Among Top in the U.S. for Preparing Future Teachers in the Science of Reading

The undergraduate teacher preparation program at the University of Pikeville (UPIKE) has been recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) for its rigorous preparation of future teachers in how to teach reading, earning an “A” grade in NCTQ’s new report, Teacher Prep Review: Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction.

The program is among just 23% nationwide and four in Kentucky to earn an “A” from NCTQ for meeting standards set by literacy experts for coverage of the most effective methods of reading instruction, often called the “science of reading.” 

National data shows that more than one-third of fourth-grade students cannot read at a basic level, which equates to more than 1.3 million children. By preparing teachers in the methods that research has shown to work best, these devastating results can be changed.

To evaluate the quality of preparation that is being provided, a team of experts at NCTQ analyzed syllabi, including lecture schedules and topics, background reading materials, class assessments, assignments and opportunities to practice instruction in required literacy courses for undergraduate elementary teacher candidates at UPIKE. To earn an “A,” programs needed to meet NCTQ’s targets for coverage of the five core components of scientifically based reading instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension) and not teach more than three instructional methods that are unsupported by the research on effective reading instruction. 

Research suggests that more than 90% of children could learn to read if their teachers used instructional methods grounded in the science of reading. UPIKE is proud to be recognized among the programs ensuring that future elementary teachers enter the classroom equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to help students become strong readers.

UPIKE’s Patton College of Education (PCOE) focuses on research-based best practices for all of its teacher education programs. Associate Professor and Director of Teacher Education for PCOE Coletta Parsley, Ed.D., describes the instructional program as being intentionally designed in elementary education to address the five components of scientifically based reading instruction.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by NCTQ for the quality of our teacher preparation program in elementary reading,” said Parsely. “We are honored to be a member of such an elite group of teacher preparation programs earning an “A” in this impactful area.”  

The new NCTQ analysis of teacher preparation programs’ coverage of the science of reading was developed over the course of two years, involving teams of literacy experts, researchers, teacher preparation leaders and educators. NCTQ evaluated 693 traditional undergraduate and graduate programs across the country, including 15 in Kentucky. Overall, just 112 programs earned an “A,” and 48 earned an “A+.” 

“The University of Pikeville is proud of the national recognition our Patton College of Education has received. This is in large part due to the commitment of our faculty, staff, students, cooperating teachers and our partnering school districts,” said UPIKE Provost Lori Werth, Ph.D. 

“We are committed to training teachers in our region and are so proud of the quality of our programs.”

See the NCTQ report for more information about UPIKE’s coverage of the science of reading and to see how the university compares to other programs in Kentucky or across the country. For more information about UPIKE, visit 


About NCTQ

The National Council on Teacher Quality: NCTQ is a nonpartisan research and policy organization on a mission to ensure every child has access to an effective teacher and every teacher has the opportunity to be effective. We believe a strong, diverse teacher workforce is critical for providing all students with equitable educational opportunities. For more information about NCTQ, visit