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Linnea Ehri Receives William S. Gray Citation of Merit

By ILA Sta
 | Jul 05, 2022

The International Literacy Association (ILA) announced today the winners of its 2022 awards and grants, including its top honor and one of the literacy field’s most prestigious—the William S. Gray Citation of Merit—which was awarded to City University of New York’s Linnea Ehri.

The William S. Gray Citation of Merit honors a nationally or internationally known individual for their outstanding contributions to multiple facets of literacy development, including research, theory, practice, and policy. Past recipients have included P. David Pearson, Steve Graham, Nell K. Duke, and Jeanne Chall.

Ehri, a longtime member of ILA, is a distinguished professor emerita of educational psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). Her groundbreaking research centers on reading acquisition processes, phonemic awareness in word reading and spelling, characteristics of phonemic awareness instruction, the impact of literacy on language processes, and the causes, prevention, and remediation of reading difficulties. Her findings on the importance of grapheme-phoneme knowledge, phonemic awareness, decoding skills, and orthographic mapping have greatly contributed to today’s understandings about psychology processes and sources of difficulty in learning to read and spell.

“I was surprised and felt very honored to join the ranks of highly accomplished scholars in receiving the William S. Gray Citation of Merit award,” Ehri said. “Gray’s stage-based portrayal of the development of reading ability is an important forerunner of approaches such as mine. As one of many researchers who use a scientific approach to understand how reading skill develops, much like Gray’s work on assessment, it is especially gratifying to have the significance of our contributions recognized.”

Ehri is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association. She was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 1998, served on the National Reading Panel and was president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR). She has published more than 130 research papers in books and scholarly journals, edited two books and served on editorial boards of 11 scientific journals, including ILA’s Reading Research Quarterly.

“Ehri’s meticulous research over decades has profoundly influenced the field of literacy education, particularly our understanding of how young children learn to read, spell and learn the meanings of words,” said Nell K. Duke, chair of the William S. Gray Citation of Merit Award Committee. “Her research has a deep relevance to practice. She addresses questions that are on the minds of educators and curriculum designers. Numerous programs, interventions, and curricula that have been informed by Ehri’s work.”

Joining Ehri in this year’s ILA awards and grants program are 10 other educators and literacy leaders, including Alida Hudson, Texas A&M University, who received the Timothy & Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation, “Upper Elementary Teachers’ Knowledge of Reading Comprehension, Classroom Practice, and Students’ Performance in Reading Comprehension.”

The other award recipients include

  • Melanie Collins, Literacy Association of Tennessee | Maryann Manning Special Service Award
  • Allison Swan Dagen, West Virginia University | Leaders Inspiring Readers Award
  • Amanda C. Dahl, Georgia State University | Steven A. Stahl Research Grant
  • Brittany Finch, Michigan State University | Jeanne S. Chall Research Fellowship
  • Gary E. Bingham, Georgia State University, and Hope K. Gerde, Texas A&M University | Diane Lapp & James Flood Professional Collaborator Award
  • Mary-Claire Ball, Erin Curran, Fabrice Tanoh, Hermann Akpé, Shakhlo Nematova and Kaja K. Jasińska, University of Toronto; and Seung-Hee Claire Son, Kirsten R. Butcher and Lauren Aimonette Liang, University of Utah | Dina Feitelson Research Award
  • Tanya S. Wright, Michigan State University | Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award

The full list of awards/grants and recipients can be found here.

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