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Reading Recovery expands to all Sarasota County elementary schools

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GCCF Reading Recovery

READING RECOVERY: Sarasota school district leaders and Reading Recovery funders at a celebration lunch to welcome the district’s new Reading Recovery teachers on August 8 in Venice (left to right): Chris Renouf, executive director of elementary education, Sarasota County Schools; Dr. Laura Kingsley, assistant superintendent; Dr. Todd Bowden, superintendent; School Board member Jane Goodwin; philanthropists Linda and Keith Monda; Reading Recovery lead teacher Lisa Fisher; Veronica Brady, senior vice president for philanthropy, Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

This news release is from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

First-Grade Reading Intervention Exceeds National Success Rate; 86% of Students Who Participated Last Year Achieved Grade-Level Reading

VENICE, FL (August 15, 2017) – A successful reading intervention for struggling Sarasota County first graders that is outpacing national results has been expanded district-wide for the new school year.  When classes began August 14, every elementary school in Sarasota County had at least one Reading Recovery teacher on staff, with a total of 34 of these specially trained literacy experts placed across the district.

The expansion of Reading Recovery from 10 schools to all 23 elementary schools was made possible with funding from the Sarasota County School Board, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

“Our community’s initial investments in Reading Recovery are changing the lives of students who have the most difficulty learning to read,” said Veronica Brady, senior vice president of philanthropy at Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “As these students quickly catch up to their classmates, they are put on a new trajectory for potential success throughout the rest of their school careers. I can’t wait to see the data next year, now that we’re in all 23 schools.”

Reading Recovery is a research-based, short-term intervention of one-on-one tutoring for the poorest-performing first graders. Daily, customized, 30-minute lessons are designed to accelerate low-achieving students’ progress to average levels of reading and writing within 20 weeks. As soon as a student reaches grade level, the lessons are discontinued and a new student begins the curriculum. 

In Sarasota County, Reading Recovery was introduced in three Title I elementary schools—Atwater, Cranberry, and Tuttle—in 2015, thanks to funding from philanthropists Keith and Linda Monda provided through Gulf Coast Community Foundation and a grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. Additional funding from Gulf Coast, the Barancik Foundation, and other donors allowed the school district to expand the program to all 10 Title I elementary schools in 2016-17. 

A report from The Ohio State University, which evaluates Reading Recovery implementations throughout the country, found that 86 percent of Sarasota County students who received a full complement of Reading Recovery lessons last year reached average levels of reading and writing. The national rate for achieving grade level through the program, according to the report, is approximately 75 percent.

For the current school year, the Barancik Foundation and the School Board have provided the additional funding needed to place 14 more Reading Recovery teachers in Sarasota County elementary schools. Gulf Coast and its donors continue to fund coordination of the program, training and supplies for teachers, and other support.

Besides providing direct one-on-one tutoring, the district’s 34 Reading Recovery teachers also will teach other students during the course of their day, leveraging the rigorous professional development required of teachers in the program. Last year, for example, in addition to the 170 students enrolled in Reading Recovery lessons, the district’s 20 Reading Recovery teachers worked with 550 students during the rest of their day.

Reading Recovery was created in New Zealand in the 1970s and introduced to the United States in 1984. Extensive research and evaluation over that time have made it the world’s most widely studied early reading intervention, according to the Reading Recovery Council of North America. Follow-up studies have shown that most Reading Recovery students also do well on standardized tests and maintain their gains in later years.

About Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Together with our donors, Gulf Coast Community Foundation transforms our region through bold and proactive philanthropy.  Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in 1995 through the sale of the Venice Hospital.  Since then, we have become the philanthropic home of more than 650 families who have established charitable funds here, and we have invested $260 million in grants in the areas of health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Learn more at

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