African American Children’s Literacy Research Center Established at Georgia State University

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has provided a four-year, $2.6 million grant to Georgia State University for the creation of a Learning Disabilities Innovation Hub.  There will be four such hubs nationwide. At Georgia State, the center will focus on learning disabilities of African American students in the first through fifth grades.

The program will be under the direction of Julie Washington, a professor of education, and Nicole Patton Terry, an assistant professor of education. One goal of the center is to determine if Black children in Atlanta-area schools are being classified as having disabilities when in reality their learning difficulties stem from their socioeconomic status.

“Our goal in applying for this grant was to address an issue that we knew people weren’t really addressing in this population of students,” Professor Washington said. “They’re not always identified as learning disabled. They’re usually talked about as being ‘struggling readers,’ and we wanted to not only take on the learning disability issue, but another issue that people let color how they address this issue, and that’s poverty. We want to figure out which issues are true poverty issues and which issues are true learning disability issues.”

Professor Washington is a graduate of Spelman College. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan.

“We want to link this research to what is happening in elementary schools around the corner and across the country, and translating that into what teachers and families can do to support students,” Dr. Patton-Terry said.

Dr. Patton-Terry holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, all from Northwestern University.

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