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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) — Hundreds of professors stopped by the University of North Alabama (UNA) Friday for a symposium on the science behind reading.

The inaugural Alabama Higher Education Science of Reading Symposium saw those faculty members from colleges across Alabama meet to share ideas and experiences.

Bonnie Short, director of the Alabama Reading Initiative, told News 19 that they were working to find the best ways for professors to teach these ideas to their education students.

“Our job is to focus on kindergarten through third grade literacy,” Short said. “All of that begins with the universities and the teachers that they have that train other teachers.”

Short also said that the science behind reading is complicated, and that it changes as we continue learning about kids’ learning habits.

“The science of reading is, truly, evidence-based,” Short added. “As we continue to learn more about the brain, it’s telling us that this is how children best learn to read.”

In July of 2022, News 19 reported that 22% of third-grade children in Alabama were below a third-grade reading level.

Alabama Rep. Terri Collins told News 19 that programs like these are the first step toward lowering that number.

“When you have collaborations like today, maybe some of the people that are struggling are learning better ways to teach, better ways to do things so that all of our children are prepared and reading on level,” Collins said.