A picture of two girls in a classroom using a long stick to point to words on a screen.

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) launched the second phase of the Kentucky Reading Academies on May 1, which brings the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) professional learning opportunity to educators across the Commonwealth.

The Kentucky Reading Academies is a comprehensive, no-cost professional learning opportunity open to all K-5 public school educators. The partnership is supported through American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding.

A child’s ability to read is a critical predictor of both educational and lifelong success. Students must have every opportunity to gain and strengthen this skill, and teachers must be equipped and empowered in the teaching of reading to best support their students, said Jason E. Glass, Kentucky’s education commissioner.

To support this goal, KDE launched this partnership beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.

Registration for the second LETRS cohort of the Kentucky Reading Academies will be open through Aug. 31. (See the registration information below.)

Through LETRS, teachers gain essential knowledge to master the fundamentals of literacy instruction required to transform student learning and create a more vibrant experience for each and every young reader. This course of study was specifically chosen because of its demonstrated success on a national scale in bringing significant increases in literacy achievement. 

More than 1,800 Kentucky educators and administrators are currently completing the two-year LETRS professional learning in Phase 1. On a survey of Phase 1 participants, 433 responded, and 95% noted that the information they are learning through the LETRS professional learning is new information, and 95% further stated the learning is relevant to their role. In addition, 93% of the respondents said the learning has helped them to better meet the diverse reading needs of their students.

Here’s what a few Phase 1 participants had to say about their experiences in the Kentucky Reading Academies:

  • This has been the best learning experience I have had in 19 years of teaching. I wish that I had access to this experience when I first started teaching. I will be recommending this to all of my teaching colleagues!” – Mark Gaskins, Fort Thomas Independent 
  • “LETRS is a rigorous course that has provided me with so much information about teaching foundational skills. I have been able to apply my knowledge almost immediately after each self-guided and live virtual session I have completed.” – Christy Rhodes, Jefferson County  
  • “The interventionists have been bragging on my Tier 3 students and how much better they are at decoding since using some of the sound wall components! It is truly making a difference in the reading confidence and abilities of my students.” – Neryssa Crisp, Scott County
  • “LETRS training has been a valuable experience for me as an educational leader. It has given me a deeper understanding of the essential knowledge necessary for transformational change with reading instruction in our primary grades.” – Kristy Nelson, Livingston County 
  • “I have many credentials to teach a student to read. However, there have been students for whom I have not made the difference I wanted to make. I am a quarter of the way through the LETRS training. This is the training I have been seeking for decades. Every teacher should have this training. It is, hands down, the best training I have ever received. It does take time, BUT, this training is well worth making the time to take. This is the training that will help us help our students. I am so glad I signed up.” – Cindy Kennedy, Rockcastle County 

Registration Information

Registration for the second LETRS cohort will be open through Aug. 31.

Two different courses are being offered through the Kentucky Reading Academies: LETRS for K-5 Educators and LETRS for Administrators. Interested K-5 public school educators can join the Kentucky Reading Academies by registering for the course that pertains to their role:

Please note: Phase 1 participants will not need to register for Phase 2, as they are already enrolled in the professional learning.

Find out more about the Kentucky Reading Academies on the Kentucky Reading Academies webpage.

For questions about the Kentucky Reading Academies, please email KDE Director of Early Literacy Christie Biggerstaff.