About Dr. Moats

Louisa C. MoatsLOUISA C. MOATS
Lead author Louisa C. Moats, Ed.D., is a nationally recognized authority on how children learn to read and why some fail to learn. Widely acclaimed as a researcher, speaker, consultant, and trainer, Moats has developed the landmark professional development program LETRS for teachers and reading specialists.

Moats began her professional career as a neuropsychology technician and teacher of students with learning disabilities. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Wellesley College, her master’s degree at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, and her doctorate in reading and human development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has been licensed to teach in three states.

Moats has served as an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School and a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas, Houston. She spent 15 years in private practice as a licensed psychologist in Vermont, specializing in evaluation and consultation with individuals of all ages who experienced difficulty with reading, spelling, writing, and oral language. After advising the California Reading Initiative for one year, Moats spent four years as site director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Early Interventions Project in Washington, D.C., which included daily work with inner-city teachers and children. Conducted through the University of Texas at Houston, this longitudinal, large-scale project investigated the causes and remedies for reading failure in high-poverty urban schools.

In addition to LETRS her authored and coauthored books include Speech to Print; Straight Talk About Reading; and Basic Facts About Dyslexia. Instructional materials include Spellography and Primary Spelling by Pattern. She also has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, chapters, and policy papers, including the American Federation of Teachers’ “Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science,” the Learning First Alliance’s “Every Child Reading: A Professional Development Guide,” and Reading First’s “Blueprint for Professional Development.”


3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Melissa D. H. Keenan, Ed.D.  |  January 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Dear Dr. Moats:

    I have been strongly influenced by your work over the years, especially the notion that teachers need to better understand language essentials in order to teach language arts more effectively. For the last year or so I have been “playing” with a graphic image that places language essentials (i.e. phonology, orthography, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics) in the center of a four “quadrant” box illustrating the language arts processes (i.e. listening, speaking, reading, and writing), with labels on the outside noting expressive/receptive and oral/written forms of language. At this point, it’s my belief that these language essentials (the center box) are relevant to all of the language arts processes (except orthography is relevant only to written forms of language, and noted as such on the chart).

    When writing curriculum, this conception of English language arts that I’ve been playing with, wreaks havoc with traditional ways of organizing a curricular document (not to mention the Common Core’s conceptualization). Most of the content tends to fall to the center (e.g., phonological awareness under phonology, grammar under syntax), and most of the process goals tends to fall to the four outside quadrants (e.g., before/during/after processes of reading, writing processes, even listening/speaking processes). And like math and science curricular documents, there is this inevitable dilemma: How do you have a document communicate the need to simultaneously pay attention to both content and process in meaningful ways? My hope is that by embedding the content of language essentials as central to the language arts processes that this relationship will be more evident and its importance emphasized (i.e. we have to pay attention to the structure of language in written and oral forms–e.g., not just grammar in writing).

    My goal is to come up with a statement that captures the overall purpose of teaching English language arts and this is where I am not quite finding the right words. My perspective has changed on the purpose of language arts; it use to be that if someone asked I would say, The purpose of language arts is to teach students how to become effective communicators by learning more about listening, speaking, reading, and writing. I would often add that these abilities make it possible for students to access and generate texts across different cultures and time periods and to contribute to their own development and society (i.e., increased knowledge of language and how to use it makes this possible). And while I still find that these are important purposes, I now tend to start with, The purpose of English language arts instruction is to teach students how our English language system works, and in doing so we are teaching students to become effective communicators, making it more possible for them to learn about themselves and their world, and contribute to society. I want the graphic organizer and the overall purpose statement to convince others that this conceptualization makes sense. Teachers who have engaged in a yearlong investigation of LETRS modules get this, but it’s a broader audience I’m aiming to capture. I want the image/purpose to compel teachers to better understand our language system and its relationship to the language arts processes. I want them to better understand why they are teaching phonics or vocabulary or grammar.

    So I have two questions: 1) Am I totally off in my thinking in trying to conceptualize English language arts with language essentials as central? 2) How might I revise the purpose to capture more effectively the intent/passion for why we teach English language arts?

  • 2. Bob Rose  |  January 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Dr Moats: I emailed Dr Marilyn Adams a description of an online study we did on the effect of being able to write the alphabet fluently in K-1 on literacy. She then asked me to write an amazon review for “ABC Foundations For Young Children”, which I and a friend in Texas did. If you’d like to read of our study, I could email it to you, but I’d need your email address. Mine is rovarose@aol.com


    Bob Rose
    Jasper, Georgia

  • 3. Bob Rose  |  July 6, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Marilyn Jager Adams, in her new book, “ABC Foundations For Young Children” presents proof that most American kids finishing first-grade still can’t name and write all of the alphabet letters…and as Professor Adams wrote, “It’s hard to learn to read if you can’t tell one letter from another”. This needless tragedy hurts poor minority children the most.


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