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  1. Gradebook

Gradebook podcast: A reading riddle in Hillsborough County schools

When reading becomes a requirement, can kids love doing it?
OCTAVIO JONES | Times Corey Nelson, 17, helps second-grader Keaton James, 8, with his reading at Bailey Elementary School in Dover, Florida on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. IB students from Strawberry High School spend the first hour of every Tuesday morning tutoring struggling readers from Bailey Elementary School.

Thousands of students in Hillsborough County schools — the nation’s eighth largest district — struggle to read at grade level, despite years of effort and millions of dollars directed at helping them. Why isn’t the system seeing improvement?

After talking with dozens of students, teachers and other experts, reporter Marlene Sokol has some insights into what drives the problem.

One key takeaway: Reading has become a requirement rather than a passion, making it harder to hold distracted children’s interest.

She discusses her new special report on reading in this latest Gradebook podcast.

Related: A reading riddle: Students are struggling everywhere, but why does Hillsborough County have so many of them?