HIALEAH, Fla. — Florida wants to help students catch up from any learning losses they suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the Hialeah Educational Academy on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a $289 million spending plan for programs that will improve student achievement and close learning gaps in schools across Florida.
"Any type of achievement gap we want to work on addressing," DeSantis said.
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The funding will be used for the following:
- $105 million for afterschool, weekend, and summer learning camps that will help struggling students catch up
- $47 million to purchase curriculum in line with Florida's new standards in English, math, civics, and Holocaust education
- $50 million to support reading intervention and professional development for reading coaches
- $44 million to support STEM programs and math acceleration
- $22.5 million for parent mentorship and extra educational materials to help parents reinforce what's taught in classrooms
- $5 million to establish regional mental health resiliency teams
"Early learning and early literacy really is the key," DeSantis said. "If you have somebody that's deficient by third grade, the chance that they fall out and are continuing behind standards and end up maybe not even graduating high school, those chances increase dramatically."
The governor said data from the Florida Department of Education showed that math proficiency suffered the most because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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DeSantis said the massive funding plan will especially help parents once the Sunshine State eliminates the controversial Florida Standards Assessments after this school year.
The state is replacing the end-of-year exams with a new progress monitoring system that will test students three times throughout each academic year and deliver faster results on their progress.
"There will be an assessment in the fall now. And you're gonna get those results back within two weeks," DeSantis said. "And then they can really work to help remediate any deficiencies with the student."
The FSA in English language arts, math, and science are scheduled to begin on April 4. This is the final time the exams will be given to Florida students.