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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


ELLM Reports Substantial Success for Year One in Collier County

FORT MYERS, FL - Tackling the challenge of early literacy, the Collier County Early Literacy Partnership for Educational Success reports "solid and substantial success" toward its goal of ensuring that children - beginning with those in greatest need - enter kindergarten with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to become successful readers and learners.

Anchor partners Florida Gulf Coast University, Fun Time Early Childhood Academy and the Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida targeted 49 preschool and Head Start classrooms serving approximately 825 three- and four-year-old children from low-income neighborhoods. $1.5 million in seed funding was provided by the Naples Children and Education Foundation.

The Partnership implemented two research-based early literacy programs: the Early Literacy and Learning Model (ELLM) curriculum and the Skills-based Educational Experiences Delivery System (ELLM/SEEDS), a volunteer program designed to support and extend the early literacy skills and knowledge learned by children in ELLM classrooms.

ELLM is a standards-based early literacy curriculum and instructional support system developed on a foundation of scientific research, with a well-documented record of success in improving children's early literacy achievement. The program provides preschool teachers with materials, books, activities and strategies, as well as a highly trained literacy coach to help the teacher implement the curriculum.

Results were impressive. At year's end, three tests were used to measure children's emergent literacy and language development. Evaluation results showed that ELLM and ELLM/SEEDS were effective interventions that significantly increased Collier County pre-schooler's emergent literacy skills and language development - two key building blocks to future reading success. Participating children had significant and meaningful gains in all measures. Achievement in the area of alphabet knowledge was particularly impressive.

ELLM children made steady gains in alphabet letter recognition throughout the year. At the beginning of the school year, most children recognized very few letters. At the end of the year (spring), 61% of the ELLM children demonstrated letter recognition proficiency (recognizing at least 75% of the letters). At the end of the year, ELLM children almost matched a national research sample of all children entering kindergarten (66%).

Overall, ELLM increased the percentage of scores ranked in the top quartile by as much as 30%. Equally significant, the percentage of scores initially ranked in the bottom
quartile - indicating little opportunity-to-learn and placing the children most at-risk of future academic failure - was reduced by as much as 40%.

Working with the three anchor partners are five key community agency partners: Naples Children and Education Foundation, the Chairman's Council of the Community Foundation, Stranahan Foundation, Christ Child Society, and the District School Board of Collier County together with the Collier County Public Schools Head Start Program.

The great success of Collier County's Early Literacy Partnership will be announced to the community at the Early Literacy and Learning Model (ELLM) Celebration Summit, February 3, 2006. Community dignitaries will be in attendance, as well as Florida's First Lady Columba Bush, who will be honored as plans are unveiled for the Columba Bush Early Arts Conservatory and the program initiative "ArtStart."

For more information, media representatives should contact FGCU's associate vice president Audrea Anderson at (239) 590-1083 or executive director of the Alliance of Educational Leaders Pat Riley at (239) 992-8000 or (239) 851-3331.

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