New state program to help your child build their personal library

Local school districts and state education leaders are offering additional services this school year to help students rebound from the COVID learning slide. 

State data shows reading proficiency slipped during the pandemic. 

The Florida Standards Assessments for 3rd – 5th graders showed students who scored at a Level 3 or above in English Language Arts went from 57% in 2019 to 53% in 2021.

The assessments are graded on a scale from Level 1 to Level 5. 

Level 1 is Inadequate, Level 2 is Below Satisfactory, Level 3 is Satisfactory (but may need additional support in the next grade), Level 4 is Proficient, Level 5 is Mastery.

At Orange County Public School's recent State of the Schools, Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins said slides were expected and efforts to help your child are underway.

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"It's no surprise to anyone," said Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Orange County Public Schools Superintendent, "Additional tutoring, additional teachers pushing into the classroom so we can accelerate their learning."

Efforts to help your child rebound are happening in school and through a new state program called New Worlds Reading Initiative. You can now enroll your child in the program that sends free books to your house. 

"In addition to rounding out that picture - provide those resources at home and can put in practice what they're learning at school with their own library," said Shaunte Duggins, Assistant Director for New Worlds Reading Initiative, "get them monthly during the academic year and they'll be accompanied by literary specific resources that families can take and use."

The free books are available for children in Kindergarten through 5th grade who attend a public or charter school. To qualify, the students must read below grade level. 

New Worlds Reading Initiative estimates about 500-thousand children are eligible in the state. It estimates 40-thousand are eligible with OCPS. Over 50,000 students signed up so far.

Children can choose what genre of book they'd like to read and books are available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. In the future, the program hopes to offer books in Braille and Large Print. 

The first books will go out in December. 

If you're interested in registering your child, visit New Worlds Reading Initiative

The program is funded for at least the next 5 years.