The COVID-19 pandemic impacted our communities in countless ways. Education took a big hit as schools initially closed, and upon reopening, had to figure out how to navigate virtual learning and new health and safety protocols. Early elementary education faced particular challenges because many of the skills that students learn at that age involve close interaction.
Considering these obstacles, it’s no surprise that grade-level literacy rates have dropped since the start of the pandemic. Statewide in Florida, the percentage of students who were reading at a satisfactory level went from 58% in 2019 to 54% in 2021. African American students and Hispanic students dropped three percentage points each, decreasing to 51% and 37%, respectively. White students dropped four percentage points, from 71% to 67%. And economically disadvantaged students dropped four percentage points, decreasing to 44%.
In Palm Beach County, the grade-level literacy rate remained consistent at 54%. This is a small victory, since some counties dropped as much as 24%. But the fact that nearly half of Palm Beach County students are reading below grade-level is unacceptable. And in our low-income communities, that rate is even lower.
It’s numbers like this that highlight the importance of CCE’s curriculum. Improving literacy rates is a core part of our mission, and in our first six months running The Foundations School, we went from 9% of our students reading on grade level to 40% of our students reading on grade level. Additionally, students found a passion for learning when working with our teachers and staff. We’re proud that our K-3 program lays a strong foundation for our students that will carry them through the rest of their education.
If you’re also concerned about low rates of grade level reading in Palm Beach County, please consider supporting our work with a donation.