The Sarasota, FL, Grade-Level Reading Campaign is recognized as a 2014 Pacesetter for making measurable progress on student outcomes through summer learning programs.
The Sarasota GLR Campaign reaches approximately 1,600 low-income children in a school district of roughly 42,000 children. In partnership with the Sarasota County School District, the local Campaign regularly tracks the following indicators: percent of children from low-income families who participate in pre-K high-quality summer learning opportunities that include a literacy or pre-literacy component; percent of children from low-income families who participate in a summer reading program; and percent of children from low-income families who participate in summer meals programs. Strategies to tackle grade-level reading vary from increasing the number of children attending quality pre-k programs, identifying struggling students and providing them with certified reading coaches, as well as employing a two-generation approach that addresses the economic and social services needs of vulnerable parents and children together.
At Alta Vista Elementary, educators encourage students who are entering kindergarten through 3rd grade to participate in the Eagle Academy, a fully-funded summer program designed to address summer learning loss and the readiness gap for children from low-income families. Results validate that students who participate in the summer program are more prepared for school, do not experience summer learning loss, and are more likely to read proficiently by 3rd grade. In 2014, 112 Alta Vista Elementary first grade students were tested using the Florida Assessment for Instruction in Reading (FAIR). When comparing reading comprehension proficiency of students leaving kindergarten and entering first grade, students enrolled in the Eagle Academy summer program exhibited no summer learning loss in reading, increasing proficiency from 77% to 79%. Students who did not attend the summer program experienced significant summer learning loss in reading, decreasing proficiency from 71% to 49%. The leader of this effort and principal of Alta Vista Elementary, Dr. Barbara Shirley, was also named Florida Principal of the Year for 2013-2014.
Additionally in 2014, the Sarasota Campaign for Grade-Level Reading inspired a new summer literacy program through the Girls & Boys Clubs of Sarasota called the Great Futures Academy (GFA). Reports showed that 100% of the 60 students who participated in this 11-week summer program did not experience any summer learning loss, and many actually improved their reading proficiency.
Furthermore in Sarasota, the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County is helping identify three and four year olds living in targeted attendance zones who will most likely to feed into Sarasota’s CGLR focus schools, but are not currently in daycare or early learning programs. The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program at the Sarasota YMCA and the local housing authority are also working with families to help them understand the importance of getting their children into qualified preschool programs.
Reflecting on the community’s progress since it joined the Campaign in 2013, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Roxie Jerde, commented, “Something special is happening in Sarasota as evidenced by the significant results achieved to date by tackling grade-level reading as a community. Through a long history of education work, generous donors, terrific partners, determined school leaders, and a collaborative community, we’re working together to accelerate progress and make a substantial impact on early literacy.”
“This recognition embodies the power of learning and sharing as a community,” says Debra Jacobs, President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “Each one of us has a role to continue building momentum toward a future where every child in our region has the opportunity and support to thrive.”
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading proudly recognizes the shared ownership for the progress in Sarasota among the following key partners:
- Community Foundation of Sarasota County
- The Patterson Foundation
- Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence
- United Way Suncoast
- CAP Brand Marketing
- Sarasota County Schools
- Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County
- Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County
- Sarasota County Library System
- Girls Incorporated of Sarasota County
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast
- Forty Carrots
- Seed of Academic Resources (S.O.A.R.)
- Education Foundation of Sarasota County
- InStride Therapy Inc.
- Every Child Inc.
- Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce
- Family Network on Disabilities
- We R 4 Kids
- Children First