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Reading Consortium Center Launched By Board of Regents

Atlanta — April 21, 1999

With the required funding for its Teacher Preparation Initiative secured from the 1999 legislative session, the Board of Regents today were briefed regarding the establishment of a new center that will provide extensive and “guaranteed” professional development in reading for Pre-K through 12th-grade teachers throughout the state.

The reading effort is just one element of the Board of Regents’ comprehensive plan to enhance teacher preparation and professional development through its 15 institutions that prepare teachers. Gov. Roy Barnes personally advocated the leadership of the General Assembly during the legislative session, to secure $3 million for the University System’s Teacher Preparation special funding initiative. The System’s efforts are closely aligned with the governor’s focus on educational reform.

The two new programs – a literacy institute and web-based courses – will be coordinated through the newly approved center housed at Georgia State University, named the Center for the University System of Georgia Reading Consortium. Ten University System institutions will participate in the consortium along with the Board of Regents, the Department of Education and the Professional Standards Commission. The center will provide opportunities for statewide collaboration among professionals engaged in improving literacy among Pre-K-12 students, via the design and promotion of literacy instruction for teachers.

Dr. Jan Kettlewell, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University System of Georgia, helped shape the Teacher Preparation Initiative, and is pleased with the launch of a critical component of the statewide effort. “This reading initiative reflects our commitment to help current teachers improve students’ reading in the schools,” Kettlewell stated. “Reading is not just taught in the first through third grade; literacy is a continual process, during which students learn how to make meaning of and evaluate text. Now, we can provide teachers with more effective tools to increase reading skills among students at all levels, which should help address critical problems such as low scores on standardized tests and insufficient reading competencies to function well as adults.”

The participating institutions involved in the consortium are collaborating to support a three-tiered sequence (called “strands”) in reading for classroom teachers in all subjects and grade levels. All teachers who complete the reading endorsement will be required to demonstrate their ability to improve the reading ability of their students, and the Board of Regents will “guarantee” their accomplishments.

Teachers will be able to complete the coursework through either of two models: the Literacy Institute Model or the Distance Learning Model. Approval is currently being sought – and is anticipated – from the state’s Professional Standards Commission to award a “reading endorsement” to participants that can be added to their teaching certificate upon completion of the program.

The Literacy Institute Model will be launched this summer (Summer 1999) at six University System institutions, including: Augusta State University, Columbus State University, Fort Valley State University, Georgia State University, State University of West Georgia, and Valdosta State University. The program will include an intensive summer study program, focused on understanding the reading process (Strand 1), linking assessment and instruction (Strand 2), and instructional strategies which enhance students’ literacy abilities in specific subject areas (Strand 3). During the following academic year, participating teachers will be expected to integrate the literacy-related instructional strategies and assessment techniques into their curriculum, with the support of institute faculty and distance learning technology.

The Distance Learning Model will be offered this fall (Fall 1999) by four System institutions, including: Armstrong Atlantic State University, Georgia State University, North Georgia College and State University, and the State University of West Georgia. This web-based model will consist of a three-semester, three-course program, that will be designed for teachers who prefer the on-line option and/or who are not close to a participating university. The curriculum content will be consistent in both learning models, with the only distinction being the delivery method.

Dr. Joyce Many, associate professor of language and literacy education at Georgia State University, has been named as the first director of the University System of Georgia Reading Consortium. The center may rotate to member institutions every 3-5 years, as determined by the Reading Consortium Board.

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