In late 2019 the Pinellas Education Foundation convened an Early Literacy Steering Committee to better prepare children entering kindergarten for success in early grades and beyond. The steering committee included the Juvenile Welfare Board, Pinellas Early Learning Coalition, Pinellas County School District, and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. The first step was to conduct a scan of early literacy in Pinellas County which included data on voluntary prekindergarten (VPK), school readiness, and the early grades. The partners then invited stakeholders to a data walk to hear their thoughts and reactions to the data in the scan. Key takeaways identified during the data walk by the 45 attendees were as follows:
- We have work to do to get all students reading on grade level by 3rd grade.
- VPK participation helps prepare students, but not enough students participate, particularly children of color.
- Greater student success comes from experienced, degreed, and credentialed teachers using approved curricula.
- Florida’s early learning standards do not meet national research-based best practices.
- Pinellas County has a preponderance of programs which provide awareness of early literacy and needs more programs that focus on developing literacy skills.
During the data walk, attendees also noted limitations in the data, such as details on the experience and education of VPK teachers and what drives the gap in school readiness scores among races. Please see the Data Walk Summary for a description of the event and the data presented.
This document is the scan prepared in the first phase of the effort. Data sources for this report included the Early Learning Coalition and Pinellas County Schools; national research on effective early literacy practices is also included where appropriate. This report first analyzes kindergarten readiness by race, ethnicity, gender, and zip code and then analyzes how readiness impacts reading in the early grades. The report then provides data on the impact of voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) on readiness, and finally, presents data on literacy in the early grades.
Click here to access the full report.