Politics · May 5, 2021 0

Florida Governor Signs Early Learning & Literacy Legislation

Vero Beach, FL (STL.NewsGovernor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 419 that makes historic improvements to state accountability for early learning programs.  Additionally, he signed HB 7011 creating a statewide progress monitoring tool to quickly understand VPK-8th grade student’s academic progress in real-time and rapidly identify personalized interventions for students that need additional support, with the goal of having 90 percent of Florida’s third graders reading on grade level by 2030.

“As a parent of three young children, I know how important it is that parents have access to high quality early learning programs,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.  “Early learning is critical for the lifelong success of our students, and supporting our earliest learners will take the guess work out of providing personalized interventions and instruction for our vulnerable students that may be falling behind.  When I took office, our kindergarten readiness rate was 42% – that number is unacceptable.  This legislation will support the thousands of Florida families that rely on our early learning programs to prepare their children for kindergarten by helping identify the support students need. Many thanks to Senator Harrell, Senator Rodriguez, Representative Grall, and Representative Aloupis, for sponsoring this groundbreaking legislation.”

“Our administration understands that education is indeed the key to opportunity, and that shaping the educational future of our children begins at the most formative years.  Quality improvements in early learning and literacy is the first step to ensuring our students achieve success.  This piece of legislation will guarantee that students who have fallen behind receive customized help and learning tools that will empower them and meet the full range of their needs,” said Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez.

“I thank Governor DeSantis for his unwavering commitment to the long-term success and progress of Florida students,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.  “A world-class education is merely a goal without accountability measures and goals that better prepare students, especially our earliest learners, for success in kindergarten and beyond.  This legislation strengthens accountability and responsibility from the beginning of a child’s educational journey.”

“We know that early learning is critical to child development, and I’m grateful to Senator Harrell, Rep. Grall and many others who have prioritized this critical legislation.  VPK is a key element of the school choice initiatives our Governor and Legislature have championed, and this important bill adds responsible accountability, increases transparency, and strengthens oversight over VPK providers to help parents better-evaluate these programs,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson.  “I also commend Senator Rodriguez and Rep. Aloupis for their work to develop a statewide system of supports for science-based reading instruction.  Reading is a fundamental life skill and the earlier we can identify potential problems students are having, the faster we can get those students matched with the help they need.  This is an opportunity to teach a skill that will impact the next 80 years of a person’s life.”

“We must do all we can to ensure our youngest students have the best chance for future success,” said Speaker Chris Sprowls.  “Today, Governor DeSantis signed legislation that will bring sweeping reforms to voluntary Pre-K and lay the groundwork to ensure that every child can read on grade level by 2030.  I am proud of Representatives Erin Grall and Vance Aloupis, whose tireless work on these issues will truly make a difference in the lives of Florida’s children.”

Senate Sponsor of House Bill 419 Senator Gayle Harrell said, “Florida has been a leader in transforming our K-12 education system and assuring that our students are prepared when they go on to college or into the workforce.  We also want to take the same approach in our Voluntary Pre K program and assure that every child is ready to learn when they start Kindergarten. HB419/SB 1282 will do just that and I am so pleased to have sponsored this legislation in the Florida Senate.  Not only does it empower parents with information, but it also establishes accountability standards and creates a seamless education system from VPK-20.  Thank you, Governor DeSantis for signing this important parent and child focused legislation today.”

House Bill 419 Sponsor Representative Erin Grall said, “Collaboration with early childhood advocates, childcare providers, public and private educators, and parents provided the foundation for HB 419. More information about a child’s progress will be provided to parents than ever before, empowering parents to make the best decisions for their child.  The implementation of a coordinated birth to 20 education system in Florida will ensure children reach their highest potential. I am so grateful for the Governor’s commitment to our earliest learners.

Senate Sponsor of House Bill 7011 Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez said, “As a mother of two school age boys who struggled with reading, I know first hand the importance of having tools to measure literacy progress for our children so that we can intervene earlier and provide the necessary resources for them to succeed.  It’s been a distinct honor to partner with Representative Vance Aloupis and Governor DeSantis in assuring that Florida leads the nation in identifying and intervening in early childhood literacy.”

House Bill 7011 and House Bill 419 Sponsor Representative Vance Aloupis said, “HB 7011 and HB 419 are two of the most transformational policies we’ve seen in recent Florida history.  With the strategic approach to literacy defined by HB 7011 and the revolutionizing of our state’s early learning system through HB 419, these two bills will provide countless students with the foundations they need to thrive in school and in life.”

Highlights of HB 419 include:

  • Prioritizes Florida’s youngest learners and VPK programs by strengthening the accountability system and utilizing coordinated screening and progress monitoring programs to identify emergent literacy and mathematics skill deficiencies to provide those students intensive, personalized interventions.
  • Establishes a timeline for phasing in a new VPK accountability system based on performance metrics that include student outcomes, learning gains, and observations of child-teacher interactions.
  • Allows districts to use the research-based reading allocation to fund intensive interventions for VPK students who are identified with a substantial reading deficiency.

Highlights of HB 7011 include:

  • Implementing a VPK-grade 8 progress monitoring system by 2022-2023 to swiftly provide personalized interventions for students struggling in reading, math and other subjects.
  • Monitoring the impact of interventions so additional support can be provided to keep students on track and growing at grade level.
  • Creating the Reading Achievement Initiative for Scholastic Excellence Program (RAISE), a coordinated system of statewide literacy support through regional literacy expert teams available to all districts and teachers.
  • Requiring the Department of Education to identify instructional materials that implement evidence-based practices.
  • Recruiting rising high school juniors and seniors to serve as tutors using evidence-based summer literacy programs for K-grade 3 students in high need schools to help readers gain reading skills.
  • Requiring all teachers in front of students with reading deficiencies earn a reading endorsement to their educator certification. This will provide teachers with the tools they need to transform a student’s educational outcomes.
  • Engaging parents of struggling readers on their student’s progress and the effectiveness of interventions, and sharing information on school choice options and all possible accommodations for students with special abilities and needs.
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