June 9, 2008
08-102

Thressea Boyd
Director of Communications

VSU Helps Local Elementary Students Succeed

VALDOSTA--Summer has officially begun and third graders at Parker Mathis Elementary are celebrating and with good reason, the entire third grade class passed the reading portion of the Criterion-Reference Competency Test (CRCT). The students reached this milestone with assistance from Valdosta State University education majors, who mentored the third graders and provided support in the areas of reading and language arts.

The mentoring program has been in existence for several years at various elementary schools in the Valdosta area, and this year’s program at Parker Mathis Elementary School was directed by Dr. Evan Ortlieb, assistant professor, Early Childhood and Special Education. More than 70 VSU students enrolled in Reading 4100, a senior level early education course, spent one-on-one mentoring time with the third graders. The program benefits both the elementary and college students through three main objectives that included developing reading and writing skills in an effort to increase levels of success, providing real-life teaching opportunities and practicum experience for students in VSU’s teacher education program, and assisting classroom teachers in their quest to develop lifelong readers and learners.

The program provides an opportunity for college students to combine theory with practical field experience and engage in direct interaction with school-age children. College students provide a buddy-system that uses interactive methods such as guided reading and writing and vocabulary-based activities to improve literacy development.

VSU senior education major Talarie Harris, helps Devon Holmes, third grader at Parker Mathis Elementary School with reading <i>Akimbo and the Snake</i>, by McCall Smith Alexander. Harris, along with fellow early education majors in VSU’s Reading 4100, serve as mentors to third graders, this partnership has helped Holmes and his classmates pass this year’s state reading and language arts standardized test.
VSU senior education major Talarie Harris, helps Devon Holmes, third grader at Parker Mathis Elementary School with reading Akimbo and the Snake, by McCall Smith Alexander. Harris, along with fellow early education majors in VSU’s Reading 4100, serve as mentors to third graders, this partnership has helped Holmes and his classmates pass this year’s state reading and language arts standardized test.
“It is quite rewarding to have VSU students and professors assist our students in the area of reading,” said Creacy Sermons, principal of Parker Mathis Elementary School. “Our boys and girls look forward to each session and the opportunity to work with their VSU Study Buddy.”

Scores from the CRCT are used by the Federal Government to determine if a school meets “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act. According to the Georgia Department of Education, the CRCT is designed to measure how well students acquire skills and knowledge outlined in the Georgia Performance Standards and Quality Core Curriculum and measure the knowledge and skills taught in Georgia’s classrooms.

“This was the first time Parker Mathis has had 100 percent success and the only school in the district with all of its third graders passing the reading area on the CRCT,” said Ortlieb. “We are all so proud of both the collegiate tutors, classroom teachers and the hard-working third graders they deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments.”

In 2007, 91 percent of Parker Mathis third graders passed the reading portion of the CRCT and school officials credit a team concept for the 100 percent success this year.

“The partnership Parker Mathis has with Valdosta State University symbolizes the perfection of teamwork,” said Dr. Steve Smith, Lowndes County School System Superintendent. “The university students served as excellent role models. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with VSU, and look forward to other opportunities in the future.”

Educational collaborations have been a long-standing tradition between VSU and area public school systems. As one of the major teacher colleges within the University System of Georgia, the Dewar College of Education plays a leadership role in public education and serves as a resource for area classroom teachers, counselors, and other school leaders.