Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative


    In the early grades, the standards emphasize explicit, systematic phonics instruction as the foundation of literacy. Decoding and fluency are essential to creating proficient readers. “Readers who have strong decoding skills can figure out unfamiliar words so quickly that the process requires no conscious effort,” says Dr. Holly Lane, University of Florida Literacy Institute. When decoding is effortless, a reader’s limited working memory is freed up so the reader can focus on meaning.

    The Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative (PELI) aims to improve kindergarten readiness rates and literacy proficiency among Pre-K and elementary school students. The Initiative focuses on kindergarten readiness by extending the science of reading into VPK and K-2 classrooms, where teachers have an opportunity to affect educational achievement through evidence-based instruction. The objective of PELI is to increase the number of students who are reading on grade level before they reach the third grade, when academic progress is assessed. By leveraging high quality professional development with instructional coaching for both Pre-K and K-2 teachers, early student literacy gaps will dissipate more rapidly, effectively preparing students for the more rigorous content of grades 3-5.

    The Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative is supported through wide-ranging, specific partnerships with the Helios Education Foundation, the Pinellas Education Foundation, Pinellas County Schools, the Pinellas Early Learning Coalition, the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center, and other local partners supporting the Pinellas Early Literacy Initiative to achieve these outcomes.

    2021-2022 Cohort
    Melrose Elementary School
    Fairmount Park Elementary School
    Sandy Lane Elementary School
    Lakewood Elementary School
    Campbell Park Elementary School
    Maximo Elementary School
    Lealman Avenue Elementary School
    High Point Elementary School
    2022-2023 Cohort
    Belleair Elementary School
    Ponce De Leon Elementary School
    Ridgecrest Elementary School
    New Heights Elementary School
    Mount Vernon Elementary School
    74th Street Elementary School
    Woodlawn Elementary School
    Gulfport Elementary School


    Participating community-based Pre-K centers: Head Start programs at Connie Mammaro Center, Jordan Park Center and High Point Center, and private early education provider Sprout Academy of St. Petersburg.