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ELLM Summit to Celebrate Successful First Year And Honor Florida's First Lady Columba Bush
2/1/2006

FORT MYERS, FL - On February 3, 2006, the Collier County Early Literacy Partnership for Educational Success and local leaders will come together at the Early Literacy and Learning Model (ELLM) Summit to report to the community that, in its first year, the program implemented by the Partnership has proven to be a great success.

The Summit takes place at the Edison College Collier Campus 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Targeting 49 preschool and Head Start classrooms serving approximately 825 three- and four-year-old children, 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.

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%.

A highlight of the Summit, Florida's First Lady Columba Bush will be honored, as plans are unveiled for the Columba Bush Early Arts Conservatory and the program initiative "ArtStart," presented by FunTime Early Childhood Academy, the Shelter for Abused Women and Children of Collier County, Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts, and the Florida Institute of Education.

FGCU President Bill Merwin, Collier County Public Schools Superintendent Ray Baker, Florida Institute of Education Director Cheryl Fountain and Community Foundation of Collier County Chair Dottie Gerrity will be among the Summit speakers. Jan Wood, creator or ELLM, will also be in attendance.

Co-anchored by the Chairman's Council of the Community Foundation, Florida Gulf Coast University, the Florida Institute of Education, and Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, the Early Literacy Partnership was forged to ensure that children - beginning with those in greatest need - enter kindergarten with the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to become successful readers and learners. $1.5 million in seed funding was provided by the Naples Children and Education Foundation.

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.

ELLM is in its second year of a three-year funding cycle. The Summit is designed to showcase the highly effective program in an effort to find a permanent home and institutionalize the program for the benefit of at-risk Collier County children.

The media is invited to attend the Summit at the Edison College Collier Campus located at 7007 Lely Cultural Parkway in the Conference Center of Building J.

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

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