Florida fourth graders are leading the nation in rising student achievement, going above and beyond the national average in reading.
It seems Sunshine State students have a lot in common with this childhood fable. Just like the tortoise, slow and steady, Florida fourth graders are ahead of the pack when it comes to reading.
"For the first time in state history, above the national average, only state in entire country to show significant gains in fourth grade," says Commissioner of Education, Jim Horne.
Educators contribute this academic achievement to a renewed emphasis on reading, coupling better-trained teachers with fatter funding.
"Leon County is one of the few districts to get a reading first grant, and we are right in the middle of it," says Superintendent Bill Montford.
That's where Apalachee Elementary reading coach Gail Dove comes in to play. Under the umbrella of the reading first grant, Gail works with these first graders so when they reach the fourth grade they too will make significant strides.
"Start early so you can read on grade level by the end of the third grade, stat young so that will happen," says Gail.
By starting early, school officials hope they are setting a solid pace, to once again win the race. The reading first grant is an $810,000 grant, nine schools in Leon County will benefit from the money. It focuses on kindergarten through third grade reading.