Bay District Schools finding ways to increase literacy rates

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 8:46 PM CST
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Educators throughout the U.S. are determined to improve reading literacy amongst younger students. That topic is especially prevalent in Bay County.

Recent reports show only 47 percent of 3rd Graders in the county passed the English Language Arts portion of a statewide progress monitoring assessment during the 2022-2023 school year.

However, BDS employees said they’re working around the clock to improve these numbers. One initiative includes promoting early screenings in young students.

“We are screening more Pre-K students through our Child Find, which is a state-run program,” said Denise Kelley, BDS Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning.

These screenings are meant to catch potential learning impairments at an early age.

“At age three, if they qualify, then we can place them in a Pre-K classroom, and they can receive early intervention from age three to the time they enter Kindergarten,” Kelley said.

They’re also using data from statewide standardized assessment scores.

“Teachers and administrators have now disaggregated that data and looked at that data to determine individual learning paths for students,” Kelley said.

BDS officials said there are pockets in the district that aren’t as strong in reading proficiency. They said a few of these schools are Cedar Grove, Parker, and Callaway Elementary Schools. That’s where “master teachers” come into play. They provide student intervention as well as professional coaching to teachers.

Parents are also urged to read to their children.

Outside programs are encouraging reading in Bay County. The Free Library on Wheels, or FLOW, started in 2019. It’s run by the Bay County Library Foundation.

“We are just hoping to play a small part in helping our children and our community be better readers who like to read,” Bay County Library Foundation Board of Directors member Laura Roesch said. “It will certainly have a positive effect as they get older and go through our school system.”

Volunteers in the program give away books to the community.

“We are well over 40,000 books,” Roesch said. “We just had our third shipment of books provided to us, donated to us by Better World Books.”

You can find the FLOW vehicle sitting in the Bay County Public Library parking lot when it’s not at schools or special events.