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A Sarasota County teacher authors a book on how COVID affected learning

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The release comes as new data reveals just 53 percent of Florida's third-graders passed the state’s reading test.

In "America's Embarrassing Reading Crisis: What We Learned From COVID," Lisa Richardson a Venice elementary school teacher, addresses why educators stress the importance of reading comprehension among the nation's third-graders.

Her book focuses on pre- and postpandemic reading proficiencies among third-graders.

 The author has spent two decades in the classroom.
The author has spent two decades in the classroom.

"It has been shown that if you're struggling in third grade that you're going to struggle in middle school, and that the rate of graduation decreases," she said. "So, 80 percent of high school dropouts were struggling readers."

In her book, Richardson — a proponent of distance learning — compares preestablished virtual learning methods with traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

Over the past several years, Florida Virtual School students have scored higher on the third-grade reading exam than their in-person peers. And Richardson believes there are lessons to be taken from the unplanned rollout of online learning during the pandemic.

"Our infrastructures are now ready to handle distance education, between online platforms, internet access and one-to-one devices that we now have in our school systems," she said. "So, we need to look at a way to be able to capitalize on that and to use those resources."

Among Richardson's suggestions: Colleges and universities should teach online learning best practices to future teachers as part of their regular curriculum.

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