New director will support improving children’s reading proficiency in Iowa and closing achievement gaps
Wednesday, May 15, 2024

IOWA CITY — Iowa Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow, and Dean Dan Clay, University of Iowa’s College of Education, today announced Shawn Datchuk as the next director of the Iowa Reading Research Center

The Iowa Reading Research Center was created by the Iowa Legislature in 2012 and is established by the Iowa Department of Education in partnership with the University of Iowa. Its purpose is to apply current research on literacy and the Science of Reading to support instructional strategies and evidence-based interventions to achieve literacy proficiency for all Iowa students. 

Datchuk is a former K-12 special education teacher, elementary teacher, special education director and academic performance director. Most recently, he served as an associate professor of special education in the UI College of Education, where he focused on identifying and supporting students with reading, reading comprehension and writing difficulties and related disabilities. In this role, Datchuk will support the Iowa Department of Education’s work to implement new legislation spearheaded by Governor Reynolds and the state legislature to advance evidence-based reading instruction and the Science of Reading.

“Every child deserves to receive instruction and supports that empower them to be proficient readers by the end of third grade,” says Snow. “Encouraged by Dr. Datchuk’s leadership and in purposeful partnership with the Department, the Iowa Reading Research Center will continue to strengthen early literacy and support evidence-based best practices alongside families, educators and teacher preparation programs across Iowa.”

With the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Reading Research Center supports literacy proficiency by partnering with education leaders and school districts in comprehensive work to leverage the Science of Reading, including through professional learning to support teacher effectiveness, family resources to support children’s reading development, data analysis and research in education environments.

“I'm honored to serve as the new director,” says Datchuk. “Learning to read and write well is a critical life skill. Together with the center’s amazing team and the Department of Education, we’ll work to ensure all students have access to high-quality, evidence-based instruction. Through high-quality technical assistance to schools and innovative research, the Iowa Reading Research Center is well-positioned to help the students of Iowa reach and exceed proficiency."

Clay says that Datchuk will provide strong leadership, expertise, and commitment to the state in his new role.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Datchuk has been appointed the Iowa Reading Research Center director. He is an excellent scholar who cares deeply about reading and writing with a commitment to improve literacy in Iowa’s schools," says Clay. "He is an outstanding collaborator and leader, which will help the Iowa Reading Research Center serve its critical role in Iowa.”

In addition to instructional, intervention, and professional learning initiatives, the Iowa Reading Research Center coordinates a dyslexia specialist endorsement program that prepares teachers to identify students with characteristics of dyslexia and implement effective intervention methods to meet their needs. The center also hosts the annual Iowa Science of Reading Summit, an opportunity for teachers and administrators to learn about evidence-based instructional methods and collaborate with other educators. 

Datchuk will begin his new role as the Iowa Reading Research Center’s director on July 1. He will continue to serve as faculty in the UI College of Education.


UNIVERSITY OF IOWA CONTACT: Lois J. Gray, 319-335-5347,