A partnership between Grand Valley's College of Education and the Kenowa Hills Public School District is showing positive results for K-3 student achievement, so much so that KHPS is hoping to expand the program.
The partnership incorporates a co-teaching model, placing Grand Valley student teachers in K-3 classrooms at Alpine Elementary School in Comstock Park full time, for one year, working side-by-side with teachers.
The program stems from a study conducted in the 2015-2016 academic year in the West Ottawa Public School District by College of Education faculty members. Faculty members researched whether having two adults working full-time in a K-3 classroom would increase student achievement.
The results showed significant increases in the students’ test scores from fall to winter, in each subject area, for every grade level involved with the program. In general, the co-teaching model showed a significant impact on students’ achievements. Students who received services through a co-teaching classroom showed a higher performance compared with students in a traditional classroom.
Sheryl Vlietstra, affiliate professor of education at Grand Valley, said the research began four years ago after some K-12 districts became hesitant to use student teachers in the classroom.
"K-12 teachers have many state requirements to fulfill," said Vlietstra, "and, there is an old perception that teachers have to turn their classrooms over to student teachers, causing a possible disruption in the curriculum."
Educators from Kenowa Hills were impressed with results from the study and, in 2016, implemented the co-teaching model with 10 Grand Valley students in 10 classrooms at Alpine Elementary. They said having another qualified instructor in the classroom helped meet student needs on a regular basis, improved planning and reflection, and allowed for different ideas and perspectives.
Jason Snyder, principal of Alpine Elementary, said having Grand Valley students immersed in the school for a full year helped them get to know the elementary school students on both a personal and academic level.
"This is huge for our kids," said Snyder. "When it's time for GVSU students to move into their student teaching time, they have the knowledge to individualize instruction, boosting student achievement. Their long-term presence in the classroom has also been positive for our overall school culture, which isn't captured in the data."
Mike Burde, assistant superintendent of Kenowa Hills Public Schools, said the data stands alone in demonstrating how the partnership is improving student achievement.
"This partnership honors our value for collaboration. We believe higher levels of collaboration lead to higher levels of student achievement," said Burde.
This year, there are 11 Grand Valley student teachers in Alpine Elementary; Burde said they hope to expand the program to upper-level elementary grades.
Doug Busman, associate professor of education at Grand Valley, said the partnership highlights the importance of Grand Valley’s Teacher Preparation Program in mentoring and graduating outstanding future teachers.
"The high quality of the Grand Valley pre-service teacher, and the level of competence, patience and commitment on the part of the Alpine teacher professionals made this project a success," Busman said.
Story originally posted on GVSU's homepage news at http://www.gvsu.edu/gvnow/article-index.htm?articleId=39F1539B-0209-5D90-AD069963F046C579 . For more information on this story, contact Dottie Barnes in University Communications - 616-331-2221 . Photo Credit: Courtesy Alpine Elementary.