Readin’ in the Sunshine

Tomorrow, Eduflack heads down to Tallahassee for the annual Florida Association of School Administrators conference.  So imagine my pleasant surprise to see today’s Tallahassee Democrat article on the establishment of a first-grade reading academy in Leon County, Florida.  (

For much of the past year, it seems that school districts have been frozen in place when it comes to strengthening reading instruction.  Chalk it up to a host of reasons — the 2006 IG investigations into Reading First and subsequent proposed cuts to the federal reading program, uncertainty about expected NCLB requirements and funding, satisfaction with current reading efforts, or budget struggles that place priorities elsewhere.  Whatever the cause, reading just hasn’t been on the educational frontburner these past 18 months.

So let’s hand it to Leon County for putting their money where the research is.  This summer, first graders unable to read at grade level will gain extra reading help for six weeks, four days a week, for six hours per.  The program is similar to one the school district had previously launched for third-graders.

Why is this so significant? It may just be that we are seeing the rhetorical pendulum swing back again.  In Leon County, they are talking about the research-based components of reading — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  They are discussing the need to have all kids reading at grade level by fourth grade.  They are taking about curriculum based on the findings of the respected Florida Center for Reading Research.  After a two-year hiatus, we are again talking about scientifically-based reading research.

Sure, this could be the exception.  But Leon County is embracing what many school districts rallied to just a few short years ago.  We’re talking about kids and their reading skill levels.  We’re talking about research-based interventions to get kids reading at grade level.  We’re talking about doing what works.  What could be more effective than doing what works, particularly when it comes to reading?

Hopefully, this is a sign of good things to come down at FASA.  Florida’s long been a leader in reading instruction.  These academies could be just the model we need to jumpstart reading instruction in 2008.

One thought on “Readin’ in the Sunshine

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