HB 3, HB 419 geared to giving Florida children a jump start on education

Included in an array of legislative proposals aimed at improving educational outcomes for Florida’s students are two that focus on early childhood learning and literacy.

On Tuesday, the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee approved legislation to establish a statewide program to deliver free books to elementary-school students identified as struggling readers.

HB 3, sponsored by Republican State Rep. Dana Trabulsy would be Florida’s first book distribution plan to provide at-home literacy support for students reading below grade level. The plan would feature the New Worlds Reading Initiative, delivering one free book each month for nine months of the year.

At least 557,344 elementary school students would be eligible to participate in the initiative according to an analysis of the bill.

Trabulsy acknowledged that cost of the initiative is unknown; funding, including purchase and delivery of books, would depend upon an appropriation provided by the Legislature in the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 General Appropriations Act.

Earlier today, the House Early Learning and Elementary Education Subcommittee unanimously advanced legislation designed to overhaul and update how voluntary prekindergarten providers are evaluated. HB 419, under the leadership of Republican Rep. Erin Grall, would establish a timeline for phasing in a new VPK accountability system based on a performance metric that includes student outcomes, learning gains and observations of child-teacher interactions.

The measure is backed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has long supported accurate and appropriate metrics to evaluate student progress. To prepare for this continued growth, the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2030 Blueprint established a goal that 100% of Florida’s children will be kindergarten-ready by 2030.