Struggling readers are everywhere, but why does Hillsborough County have so many of them?

Tens of thousands of local students are performing at the lowest levels in reading, a problem school district officials acknowledge is severe.
Specialist Patti Gonzales, who teaches reading lessons in small groups, works with Markus Barron at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Tampa on Feb. 6. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
Specialist Patti Gonzales, who teaches reading lessons in small groups, works with Markus Barron at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Tampa on Feb. 6. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published April 17
Updated April 17

Among the 18 third-graders being taught by a long-term substitute at Sulphur Springs K-8 School, not one could read the sample questions to prepare for the state test they would take this month.

They could not string together three or four words, Gray, a teacher for 27 years, told fellow board members on Feb. 19.

“They could not read the multiple choice answers,” she recalled. “What we have is a crisis.”

The numbers back her up.

Tens of thousands of Hillsborough school kids struggle to read, according to state testing data. Despite mountains of research and years of trial and error. Despite well-intentioned programs and millions of dollars spent.

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