TALLAHASSEE, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ -– Governor Charlie Crist today joined Commissioner of Education Dr. Eric J. Smith and President of AT&T in Florida Marshall Criser, III, at Hartsfield Elementary to unveil a new statewide reading assessment system aimed at bolstering the reading success of all Florida students. The new tool will allow teachers to quickly identify students’ reading strengths and weaknesses using web-based technology.
“We are making tremendous academic progress here in Florida and none of it would be possible without the support of a business community that truly values education,” said Governor Crist. “This generous contribution from AT&T is going to better the lives of our children and ensure that our state continues to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”
The implementation of this new system is due in part to a $525,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation. The Foundation’s donation will allow the Florida Department of Education to supply laptop computers to kindergarten through 2nd grade classrooms around the state to test this new technology. Using the laptops, teachers will conduct reading assessments where students participate in a series of real-time exercises to evaluate their reading abilities while teachers log their performance. The system will then process each student’s results and provide immediate feedback to help target instruction. The assessments unveiled today are part of the state’s larger pilot system known as the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading, or FAIR, which will provide teachers at all grade levels with screening, progress monitoring and diagnostic information essential to guiding reading instruction.
“The Department of Education has enhanced the reading assessment program for Florida students in grades kindergarten through 12 with a focus on a student’s individual needs,” said Criser. “This grant makes new devices available to more classrooms and upgrades the methods that are used to collect data, which will enhance the teacher’s ability to help their students.”
The kindergarten through 12th grade FAIR program will be piloted in select schools throughout the state during the months of April and May and will be available to all schools in each of Florida’s 67 school districts in the fall. The Florida Department of Education has worked in partnership with the Florida Center for Reading Research to develop the state’s reading assessment tools aimed at increasing student performance and enhancing the skills of our reading instructors.
“Proper reading skills are incredibly important to the success of our children and I cannot thank AT&T enough for contributing so much to such an important cause,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “As we work to expand our new reading assessments to all grade levels I am confident that every area of student learning will be positively impacted.”
For more information about FAIR, visit www.fldoe.org.
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About Philanthropy at AT&T
For 25 years, AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have been committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives and partnerships, AT&T supports projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. As the AT&T Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2009, more than $160 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs in 2008 alone.