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PRESS RELEASE

February 21, 2006

Jennifer Fennell or
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

National Governors Association Awards Florida Grant to Improve Adolescent Literacy

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced that Florida is one of eight states selected to receive Reading to Achieve grants of up to $50,000 to help develop literacy plans and policies to improve adolescent literacy achievement. The grants will be administered by the NGA Center for Best Practices. Just Read, Florida! will form a workgroup of practitioners, made up of Florida teachers and literacy coaches, principals, teacher preparation faculty, school district staff and citizens, to recommend policies to implement the literacy plan.

"Reading is the key to learning," said Governor Jeb Bush. "This grant will supplement the significant funding Florida has invested to make reading a key focus in our schools — with policies, practices and funding to drive effective, research-based reading instruction into our classrooms."

An independent selection committee performed a thorough evaluation process, awarding grants to states that will develop a K-12 literacy plan or establish a state plan for grades four through 12 that aligns with an existing early grades literacy plan. The Reading to Achieve grant will allow Florida to refine its comprehensive reading plans for middle and secondary literacy.

"I'm thrilled that Florida is a recipient of the Reading to Achieve grant," said Commissioner Winn. "We've had great success in reading achievement at the elementary level and it is imperative that we build on that success in the middle and high school levels."

Through guidance from the Department's Just Read, Florida! office, school districts and stakeholders will address adolescent literacy in a systematic and strategic manner. Since the overarching goal is to increase student achievement, the transformation of research and policy into practice will enable Florida teachers to deliver effective instruction to all students.

Winning proposals outlined benchmarks for performance, including:

  • development of a state literacy plan;
  • expanded professional development or certification options based on best practices and research in adolescent literacy;
  • realigned funding to support adolescent literacy initiatives;
  • increased media coverage on the impact of adolescent literacy on student achievement
  • and high school graduation rates;
  • an increased number of teachers and principals receiving adolescent literacy instruction training; and
  • improved data tracking and/or reporting for literacy indicators.

For more information about the Reading to Achieve grant, visit www.nga.org.

Just Read, Florida! is Governor Jeb Bush's statewide reading initiative that prioritizes reading in Florida's public schools. Charged with establishing reading as a core value in this state, Just Read, Florida! was launched in 2001 with the goal of every child being able to read at or above grade level by the year 2012. For more information on Just Read, Florida! visit www.justreadflorida.com