The University of Florida Literacy Initiative (UFLI–pronounced “you fly”) is an ongoing effort by UF faculty and students to improve literacy outcomes for students who struggle to learn to read and write. UFLI began in 1998 as a tutoring model for struggling beginning readers, but it now encompasses a variety of literacy projects, including tutoring for students from kindergarten through high school, assistance to schools, and teacher education and professional development.
The UFLI Tutoring for Beginning Readers model was developed by Drs. Holly Lane, Lynda Hayes, and Paige Pullen as a field experience for students in UF’s Unified Elementary Proteach (UEP) program. UF students tutor struggling beginning readers—mostly first graders—for 30-45 minutes each day. Only a few UF students each year received tutor training at first, but in response to a demand from local schools, all our preservice elementary and early childhood teachers now receive training in the tutoring model. More than 150 local children benefit from UFLI tutoring. Our data indicate that children receiving UFLI tutoring demonstrate approximately six months’ reading growth in only 20-25 tutoring sessions.
Students in our Early Childhood and Elementary Education programs receive training in the UFLI Small-Group Intervention model, as well. This model adapts the one-on-one tutoring procedures for use in a small-group setting. Our data indicate that, for most children, small-group intervention is just as effective as one-on-one tutoring. However, although children make similar gains in small-group intervention, growth tends to be faster with one-on-one tutoring.
In 2013, UFLI began offering training in an intensive, Orton-Gillingham based tutoring model for students in the Dual Certification track of UEP. As part of their 9-credit block of literacy intervention courses, UF students tutor students with dyslexia and other significant reading difficulties.