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Albany State University Helping Partner School Reduce Literacy Gaps

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The clinical practice partnership between Georgia’s Albany State University (ASU) College of Education and nearby Live Oak Elementary is bringing mutual benefit to the elementary students and the ASU teacher candidates. The field-based preparation model they have cultivated around the school’s learning goals promotes growth for all involved.

The hands-on assistance and dedication of the teacher candidates are helping to close literacy achievement gaps for Live Oak second-graders, for example, through the partners’ remedial reading practicum in the early childhood education program.

“Students are being equipped with phonemic awareness, where they are expected to read independently on a third-grade level,” said Principal Laytona Stephenson.

ASU reading education faculty Valeisha Ellis and Patricia Jenkins have supervised the teacher candidates’ experience for the literacy part of the program. Just 2 years into their partnership, Live Oak Elementary reported an increase in students’ reading scores. According to Ellis (who is now on the faculty at Spelman College), more students now meet their second-grade reading criteria for promotion, resulting in fewer being held back.

Jenkins said she values the opportunity to be on site at Live Oak with her teacher candidates. The direct contact facilitates individualized feedback to make sure each candidate is able to apply theory in practice, she said, guiding them to be more effective and prepared to teach independently.

In addition, candidates conduct research in the school, which helps build their experience as members of a professional community. “This research helps the ASU students to share their findings to help improve and streamline their teacher preparation program practical research,” said Jenkins.

Due to the success of the partnership, Live Oak Elementary has already hired some of the ASU teacher candidates. “Because of the student quality ASU is providing, they have helped us close the achievement gap by a year in the time they have been with us,” Stephenson said. “It is a win-win on both sides. The candidates are familiar with the culture of Live Oak, and the school knows the work of the candidates.”

Learn more about ASU’s programs at https://www.asurams.edu/teacher-education/.

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Melvin Bogard

Media Relations Coordinator Intern