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

The author is a teacher at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice.

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 post-pandemic reading proficienciesamong third-graders.

"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."

TEACHER VOICES: Teachers tells us about their struggles the last two years

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

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

Over the past several years, Florida Virtual School students have scoredhigheron 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 her suggestions, Richardson says colleges and universities should teach online learning best practices to future teachers as part of their regular curriculum.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.