Monroe County students have a need to read.
That's the conclusion statistics obtained from the Florida Department of Education make clear. During last year's 'Million Minute Marathon,' held during Celebrate Literacy Week, county students logged 112,163 minutes of reading time. This year, that figure rose to 683,986 minutes.
Even taking into consideration the increased rate of school participation, (eight schools last year, versus 13 this year), the increase is a dramatic one, and everyone from school officials, to School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths, was pleased with the results.
"There's a lot more reading going on, and that can't be a bad thing," Griffiths said. "The only possible way to get those kinds of numbers, is that more kids are reading, and the kids who are reading, are reading more."
Among elementary schools, Stanley Switlik in Marathon posted the most impressive gain, rising from 10,000 minutes during the 2011-12 school session, to 14,070 this year. The school's closest competition was Poinciana Elementary, with 11,960 minutes read.
"We're quite pleased with these results," said Switlik Media Specialist Christine Paul. "Many of our students got to pick the books they read, which helps keep them interested. We've also created a video filmed by our students promoting reading. And we regularly promote reading in our morning announcements."
The number-one secondary school in the county was Key West High School, with 300,000 minutes read. The runner up in this category was Coral Shores, with 148,490 minutes. Last year, no district high schools took part in the challenge, now in its fifth year.
"This is a great achievement for our school," said KWHS Principal Amber Archer Bosco. "Our students enjoy reading very much. It was very easy to participate, because they're so used to doing it. We look forward to participating in the Million Minute Marathon next year."
The MMM was a success across the state. Last year, Florida students read 23 million minutes. This year, pupils read 30.1 million minutes, exceeding the DOE's stated goal of 30 million.
In other education good news, CNN is reporting that Florida's fourth-graders scored second world-wide in a global reading test.
"This report is great news for Florida as our state becomes a hub for global commerce, and grows jobs aimed at meeting the world's needs," Gov. Rick Scott said in response to the report.