Engaged Families in Florida, Critical to Student Success

Originally posted on Commissioner's Blog:


Bringing up the next generation of leaders is a responsibility that requires the assistance of the entire community. When families, communities and schools work together, students have a much greater chance at succeeding in school and throughout life.

Governor Rick Scott has proclaimed November Florida Family Engagement in Education Month, and the Florida Department of Education (DOE) is encouraging families to take this opportunity to become more active in their child’s school and extracurricular activities. By investing more time as a unit in their child’s life, families can have a significant impact on their child’s future. These children are Floridian students today, and with family involvement, they can be state and national leaders tomorrow.

To help families achieve this goal we have developed resources to help families get more engaged. FloridaStudents.org is a great source for families to find Florida Standards student tutorials and resources that will help students succeed…

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Why Plain Language is so Important to Health Literacy

Those involved in the health field spend many years educating themselves to learn the complex health related terminologies that are foreign to the average person. As a result, there is a large portion of the population who cannot comprehend what their doctors are telling them about their health. According to the U.S Department of Education, a little over sixty percent of the population can read instructions on a prescription label. This alarming statistic shows why health care professionals and educators need to be more conscientious when explaining health related matters to their patients. The importance of being health literate can be solved by having readily accessible information to health related matters so that the average person can understand and use to make informed decisions.

The Florida Literacy Coalition held a Health Literacy Summit last year which dealt with this same issue. Plain language is clear simplified wording that acts as an initiative that emphasizes the importance of using simple words that people can understand when communicating with patients. The importance of health care professionals communicating with their patients in plain language will ultimately help with the issue of doctor to patient miscommunication.  The benefits of health care professionals using plain language will increase the percentage of people who have an intermediate or proficient health literacy level and decrease the amount of people that have a basic health literacy level.

Table 1. Descriptions of Health Literacy

Health Literacy Level Task Examples Percentage
Proficient Using a table, calculate an employee’s share of health insurance costs for a year. 12%
Intermediate Read instructions on a prescription label, and determine what time a person can take the medication. 53%
Basic Read a pamphlet, and give two reasons a person with no symptoms should be tested for a disease. 21%
Below Basic Read a set of short instructions, and identify what is permissible to drink before a medical test. 14%

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy..

The following are ways to become more health literate:

  1. Improve Communication With Your Doctors:
  • Ask your health care professional to use familiar language and write down their information.
  • Ask questions if something is unclear. Ask for written information to take home.
  1. Take action in your community:
  • Attend health education programs around your area.
  • Request that local schools include health literacy in their adult education curriculum.


Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. America’s Health Literacy: Why We Need Accessible Health Information. Available at: http://health.gov/communication/literacy/issuebrief/ (Accessed: 14 October 2015). Inline Citations: (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)

FLC Presents the Stair Climber Challenge, a Great Way to Celebrate Health Literacy Month

Tired of not exercising because of your busy work schedule? Bring your work out to work!

In honor of Health Literacy month we have started the Stair Climber Challenge. The SC Challenge is an office wide stair climbing competition. Incentives and prizes are distributed on a weekly and monthly basis to keep participants engaged. Building staircases and Stairmasters are acceptable stair climbing methods.

Start a Stair Climber Challenge in Your Office!

If you’d like to encourage your staff to keep a healthy and fit lifestyle by building exercise into their work-day, consider starting a SC Challenge in your office. You can view our rules below and tweak to better fit your organization’s needs.

Stair Climber Challenge FLC Official Rules

Stair Climber Challenge FLC Official Rules

Benefits of Taking the Stairs:

  • Taking the stairs can make a significant contribution to the 30 minutes of exercise we all need every day.Practice - Close up of young man running up the stairs
  • The 30 minutes of physical activity we need for our health can be accumulated one stair flight at a time, spread out at intervals throughout the day.
  • Physical activities like stair climbing are a great way to cope with job-related stress.
  • Climbing just two flights of stairs everyday could result in a loss of 6lbs per year. Six flights a day could help you trim nearly 18 lbs. (results will vary based on other lifestyle/personal factors).
  • Adding stairs to your day can add years to your life. Studies show that risk of cardiovascular disease and death is lower among those who are regular stair climbers.
  • Stair climbing can also add life to your years. Those who climb stairs on a daily basis have greater leg strength and aerobic capacity, allowing them to participate more fully in a wide range of daily activities.
  • Taking the stairs is often faster than waiting for an elevator during peak usage times. Take the test and time your trip. Often for trips of 7 floors or less, the stairs are the quickest way to your destination!
  • Using the stairs requires no special skill, equipment or clothing and it burns twice as many calories as walking. So step right up!
  • Stair climbing is a ‘green’ activity; the only energy source

Share Your Results

Join us on our Facebook page and share your Stair Climber stories. Showcase your accomplishments, weekly winners, or unique climbs that made your week!

We look forward to staying healthy with you!

October is Health Literacy Month!

Health Literacy Month was founded by Helen Osborne, M.Ed, OTR/L as a way to raise awareness for health literacy issues in 1999. This year’s theme is “Be a Health Literacy Hero.” You learn more about current “heroes” and nominate your own by visiting Helen’s site.

The Importance of Health Literacy
The National Assessment of Adult Literacy has showed that nine out of ten adults do not have the skills necessary to maintain health and prevent disease. Adults with low levels of health literacy are much more likely to report poor health and less likely to have health insurance.1

Health illiteracy is a widespread issue in America. The effects of health illiteracy are felt on a personal, community-wide, and national level. It is estimated that low levels of health literacy costs the U.S. economy up to $236 billion each year.1 Raising health literacy levels is a goal of many organizations throughout the national.


Working for Change: What Is Being Done to Improve Health Literacy across the Nation
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began its Healthy People 2020 campaign in 2010. Healthy People 2020 provides “science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.”2 Healthy People 2020 strives not only to improve general health status of the U.S. population, but also focuses on disparities and inequality in access to healthcare.

In addition to the Healthy People campaign, community based organizations throughout the nation work to improve health literacy. The CDC currently lists organizations which are working to promote Health Literacy by state. These organizations’ goals must be in line with the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. You may learn about each program by clicking on the program name in the list.

The Florida Health Literacy Initiative
Florida Literacy Coalition (FLC) is proud to partner with Florida Blue to make available targeted grants to promote health literacy. The goal is to provide health-education resources for local adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and family literacy programs so that students in these programs can make informed choices about their health and nutrition.

The FLC has also offers a range of health literacy publications. Our publications include the Staying Healthy and Staying Healthy for Beginners books which you can download for free in PDF format or order hardcopies by clicking here. Companion videos are also available.


health.gov. (n.d.). Health Literacy – Fact Sheet: Health Literacy Basics . Retrieved 10 01, 2015, from Health.Gov: http://health.gov/communication/literacy/quickguide/factsbasic.htm

healthypeople.gov. (n.d.). About Healthy People | Healthy People 2020. Retrieved 10 01, 2015, from HealthyPeople.gov:


How to Take the GED For Free in Florida: LIBRE Institute’s High School Diploma Initiative

How to Take the GED For Free: LIBRE Institute’s High School Diploma Initiative

Take a moment to review the following statistics on the reasons why someone may be interested in obtaining a GED:

Reasons for obtaining a GED credential
Meet requirements for additional study 66%
Train for a new job/career 51%
Improve/ keep up to date on current job 47%
Improve basic reading/writing/math skills 36%
Required or encouraged by employer 23%
For personal/family/social reasons 71%

Source: National Center of Education Statistics.

The General Educational Development Test (GED) has become a minimum requirement for most jobs. But passing the test is a big struggle for around 700,000 of the adults who take it each year for economic reasons.

The GED test consists of four modules; each module costs $32 in the state of Florida. While there are many eager adults who wish to obtain a GED can
not because they cannot afford to take the test. Luckily, The LIBRE Institute has partnered with Essential Education to create the High School Diploma Initiative (HSDI).

florida stats ged

GED statistics in Florida, year 2012.

Available to residents of Miami and Orlando, the HSDI offers a free online GED® prep course to those selected to participate. Students will also receive a voucher to take the GED® test upon successful completion of the program.

Students interested in applying for the program or finding out more information can do so at: http://academy.thelibreinstitute.org/hsdi/.

What’s New In Adult and Family Literacy: AEFL Week 2015

September 20 – 26 is Adult and Family Literacy Week. AEFL week is recognized by the U.S. Congress. You can view the Senate Resolution now.

Why Should We Raise Awareness of Adult and Family Literacy?

Consider the following statistics:

  • According to ProLiteracy research, only 29% of adults over the age of 16 read at the eighth grade level1 and 36 million American adults cannot read well enough to fill out a job application. Low literacy rates are linked to poverty, unemployment, crime, and higher health care costs.

  • The lastest NCHEMS Information Center Educational Attainment Survey shows that Florida has one of the highest dropout rates in the nation, with 87% percent of adults between the ages of 25 to 34 obtaining a high school diploma.
  • A 2010 Study by the NIH showed that “a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors, such as neighborhood and family income.

Statistics like these mean that issues of adult and family literacy should remain a part of our national conversation. Special events like International Literacy Day and AEFL Week help to keep adult literacy issues at the forefront.

How Can I Promote AEFL Week?


NCL. (n.d.). National Coalition for Literacy – family Literacy facts. Retrieved 9 23, 2015, from National Coalition for Literacy: http://national-coalition-literacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/FamilyLiteracyFactSheetfromNCFL.pdf

ProLiteracy. (n.d.). ProLiteracy – The Crisis – Adult Literacy Facts. Retrieved 9 23, 2015, from http://www.proliteracy.org/the-crisis/adult-literacy-facts

Florida Adult and Family Literacy Month: How to Celebrate, Participate, and Bring Awareness to Literacy Issues This September

Governor Rick Scott recently signed a proclamation recognizing September as Florida Adult and Family Literacy Month! Take advantage of this month to promote literacy in your community. See below for events and celebration ideas!

Book on the beach

Great Ways to Participate:

  1. Florida State Parks is helping to promote literacy by creating a month of family friendly special events centered on reading. You can visit the Florida State Parks Events page to find an event near you.
  2. Help inspire prospective students and educators by sharing your literacy success stories with us so that we can share them with the community at large. Click here to submit.
  3. Become a literacy volunteer and help change lives. If you can read, you can help! Call us at our hotline for more information about volunteering in your community at 1 (800) 237-5113 or visit our Directory of Volunteer Opportunities to find a volunteering opportunity near you.
  4. Create your own event by making the most out of the ProLiteracy International Literacy Day Toolkit’s suggested activities guide.
  5. Browse teaching resources on the Teaching Resources sub-reddit or join a discussion in any of the education themed forums. For a list of relevant sub-reddits, please visit our page at Florida Literacy and see the sidebar on the right side of the page.
  6. Share this informative graphic by UNESCO with your community on social media.
Colt Creek State park is hosting a Literacy Day Celebration on September 13th.

Colt Creek State park is hosting a Literacy Day Celebration on September 13th.

The Florida Standards Assessments and School-Age Children

Do your adult learners have school-age children? FLC advocates for the effective delivery of adult and family literacy resources. Why not inform parents early about information on the new Florida Standard Assessments Test? From FCAT to the Florida Standards Assessments, parents have been left with so many unanswered questions. The Florida Standards Assessments website and the Florida Department of Education website provide free resources and information about the test. Parents can let their children take practice tests as well as review the FSA quick guide. This guide will familiarize them with the functionality of the test. Before you know it, April 2015 will be here, so teachers, advocates, tutors, and counselors, share these resources with your  students to help their families succeed in school. Click on the links below for information:



FLC’s Newly-Released Books

Please explore FLC’s newly-released books, Staying Healthy for Beginners and the Staying Healthy for Beginners Teacher’s Guide. We are always excited about helping students in the learning process as well as providing teachers with the most current curriculum. With this health care guide, students won’t feel intimated about the learning process. They will be engaged by Staying Healthy’s basic healthcare vocabulary lists, dialogues, reading and writing exercises. Teachers will be able to teach health literacy in the simplest format for students to understand. Click on the follow link for more information: http://floridaliteracy.org/health_literacy_curriculum.html

Staying Healthy for Beginners Cirriculum PhotoStaying Healthy for Beginners Teacher's Guide Photo

Sharifa Ford – Don’t Forget Our Boys

Jayson ReadingThe word active will always be linked with boys. Roughness is in their nature. They can spend six hours at the park, go home and still want to play video games. Reading seems like it’s never a part of their agenda. My husband and I often say raising our son is the perfect remedy for losing weight. He never lets us sit down. Other parents have said to me that their sons are non-stop, they don’t listen, and it’s impossible to get them to read. My response is, “Boys operate differently than girls; it’s never too late and be patient with them.”

Boys will be boys but eventually they will turn into men. Our boys need our help. They need to know they are loved and as parents, it’s our job to be there for them. They don’t need to constantly hear us YELLING at them for every wrong thing they do. Boys get discourage and need reassurance that they can do anything they put their mind to.

We need to read to them as much as they need to read to us. How can we get our boys to read if they never see us pick up a book, magazine or anything that words are attached to? How do we expect for them to become fluent readers if we don’t lead by example? Family literacy is crucial in America. As parents, we should be accountable for our actions and if we’re struggling, then we  need to ask for help so we can help our children. We need to make sure a cycle of non-readers doesn’t continue. I ask that you try different reading tactics to encourage reading. I had to write my own articles just to make it fun for my son to get excited. He started to read more because I was the author.

Our boys need positive role models whether it’s a man or a woman. If they have a loving environment at home, positive words and we are involved at their school, these types of images can set the tone for a successful reader and improve a struggling one. I have all the girl power in the world, but please: “Don’t Forget Our Boys!”