The Higher Education Literacy Council (HELC) is a volunteer membership organization serving as a collegial body for teacher preparation professionals concerned with evidence-based practices in literacy instruction in the State of Mississippi.
In 2003, literacy faculty members from the Mississippi public and private Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) convened with representatives from the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), perhaps for the first time. During this meeting, the IHL members discovered a need for increased support of Mississippi’s collegial body of teacher preparation professionals, creating the Higher Education Literacy Council (HELC). This volunteer group of teaching professionals from the state of Mississippi’s colleges and universities began focusing on evidence-based practices in literacy instruction, examining relevant educational research regarding literacy instruction with the intention of impacting all of Mississippi’s teacher preparation programs. HELC allowed members an opportunity to engage in discussions related to their work, additionally impacting state and national policy makers. HELC provides mutual support to the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) along with the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to construct a statewide effort seeking to improve literacy development by reinforcing teacher preparation programs and new teachers. In 2004, the group drafted new teacher preparation courses in early literacy. Soon after the MDE announced, beginning in 2007, students participating in teacher preparation programs must have at least 15 hours of educational literacy training in order to graduate. Over the years, the HELC has impacted in the state of Mississippi through the organization’s commitment to strengthening literacy in Mississippi. In the fall of 2017, the HELC advanced their efforts on improving the quality of pre-service content instruction at the collegiate level with the commencement of a three-year project, establishing goals of reducing the retraining costs of elementary school teachers, as well as retaining teachers throughout the state. The HELC continues its commitment to ensuring all of Mississippi’s children are provided a strong early literacy foundation.
- Provide mutual support among literacy professionals across the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), and related literacy organizations.
- Build capacity among and impact of all teacher preparation programs in Mississippi by examining and disseminating relevant educational research specific to literacy instruction.
- Provide opportunities for members to engage in discussions related to their work as literacy professionals and to advise decision makers (including national and state accrediting bodies and legislators) on policies to strengthen literacy in Mississippi.
- Offer and/or participate in professional development that promotes evidence-based practices as the members deem appropriate and necessary.
- Host and/or participate in events and activities that promote evidence-based practices in literacy instruction.