Valdosta community fights child literacy issues

Valdosta community fights child literacy issues
Valdosta State University is partnering with Valdosta City Schools to test every kindergarten student in their city this fall. (Source: WALB)

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Valdosta State University (VSU) is partnering with Valdosta City Schools (VCS) to test every kindergarten student in their city this fall.

This meets a requirement set for 2024 by Senate Bill 48, signed by Governor Kemp back on May 2.

“We thought that was kicking the can a little too far down the road," said Matthew Carter, a Valdosta State University Professor.

Valdosta State University is partnering with Valdosta City Schools to test every kindergarten student in their city this fall.
Valdosta State University is partnering with Valdosta City Schools to test every kindergarten student in their city this fall. (Source: WALB)

Carter said they’re not waiting five years, but instead going to start testing the students in Valdosta immediately for dyslexia.

“We currently have a literacy epidemic. We don’t have a futuristic literacy epidemic. We’d like to get started now,” said Carter.

On Thursday, VSU, VCS, and Scottish Rite held a press conference to announce their partnership to focus on early prevention.

“Illiteracy costs our government, our national government, billions of dollars a year and social service expenditures and also lose tax revenue,” said Carter.

VCS Superintendent, Todd Cason said this program might be the first step to getting the students who may need a little extra help, on the right path.

Valdosta State University is partnering with Valdosta City Schools to test every kindergarten student in their city this fall.
Valdosta State University is partnering with Valdosta City Schools to test every kindergarten student in their city this fall. (Source: WALB)

“What we can do is put things in place, put interventions in place, put protocols in place that again can help our children at a much younger age," said Cason.

The testing will be done by the students in VSU’s Communications Sciences and Disorders program.

“Obviously the goal is not to just say the child has reason problem. It’s to get them help. That’s not only where we want it to lead, that’s where it needs to lead," said Michael Kessler, President of Scottish Rite.

Valdosta State University is partnering with Valdosta City Schools to test every kindergarten student in their city this fall.
Valdosta State University is partnering with Valdosta City Schools to test every kindergarten student in their city this fall. (Source: WALB)

Kessler said they were happy to provide the program organizers with the money to support this work.

“This was unique. This was different. We just saw it as a great opportunity to expand what we do," said Kessler.

VSU staff said that plans are already in place to extend this initiative every year that more funds become available.

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