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Reading scores decline in Southwest Florida

Posted at 7:17 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 19:17:38-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are showing up in Southwest Florida students test scores. The latest Florida Standards Assessments shows Lee County third grade reading scores dropped by eight percent from 2019 to 2021.

Lee County School District put a plan together when they saw the most recent FSA results.

Now, 1600+ third graders are participating in the district’s extended virtual learning summer program. Students also have access to one-on-one help with teachers via Zoom and 400 third graders are in their reading camp.

Lenora Clarke has worked as an educator in different parts of the U.S. for the last 27 years, spending most of her time in third-grade classrooms - a paramount age that can determine a child’s academic success moving forward.

“Third graders come and they’re in third grade, and they can’t read. But, we expect them to master this curriculum that is heavy with literacy, with literature, and comparing and contrasting, and all these different skills. They can’t handle it,” she said.

She’s stepped out of her own classroom to teach teachers how to help their students become better readers as a Peer Collaborative Teacher at G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School in Lehigh Acres.

“It’s been my practice for the past five years to work with third graders who have those holes, and fill in those gaps.,” she said.

She’ll continue to do that to help boost those reading scores for next year.

FSA reading scores for Hendry County third graders dropped by 10 percent.

School District Superintendent Michael Swindle recommended the school board approve two reading coaches for the district to help with the growing population, and they did on June 15th.

Federal funding will pay for the new coaches.

Clarke says if your child isn’t in summer school or you don’t have access to their curriculum, they can read around the house with something as simple as a cereal box. You can even get Alexa or youtube to read books to them.