A Report on the Achievements of Indian River County, FL’s K-5 Elementary School Education.


On November 9, 2017 The Learning Alliance of Indian River County (LAIRC) held an “Annual Moonshot Moment Day of Service” at the Oak Harbor Club, Vero Beach.

The Learning Alliance, a 501(3)c non-profit organization founded in 2009, is committed to improving education for all Indian River County, FL children. Their vision is a future where children arrive for kindergarten, ready to achieve 90% reading literacy by 3rd grade.

Related article: What is 90% Literacy?


LAIRC is the umbrella organization for the Moonshot Moment.  In keeping with the vision of LAIRC, the Moonshot Moment is the arm of LAIRC that works actively with all Indian River County elementary schools to achieve their goal that 90 percent of all third grade students will  be reading at 90 % literacy by 2018.  There is only one other school district in the na­tion bold enough to set such an aggressive goal.

The Moonshot Mo­ment is setting a path toward becoming our country’s leading learning and literacy community.

Moonshot Moment

The Annual Moonshot Annual Day of Service guests included community and academic leaders, who were recognized for their contribution to achieving Moonshot Moment’s 90% literacy goal.

Mr. Raymond Oglethorpe, a co-founder of TLA and Dr. Mark Rendell, superentendent of the School District of Indian River County presented statistics on Florida’s new grades for  IRC elementary schools and the effect of Moonshot Moment’s Moonshot Academy on the improvement in school grades.

The Moonshot Academy is an after school program funded by The Learning Alliance. The program provides students with an academic extension of their day, plus enrichment activities which include Legos, BOKs, yoga, Science Technology – Hour of Code, hands on science experiments involving technology to create PowerPoints showcasing their results, as well as, Literacy off the Page activities based on the literature.

In terms of improved school grades, Mr. Ogelthorpe and Dr. Rendell began by citing the improved grades at seven Indian River County elementary schools.

[Florida grades schools using a point system based on student achievement and progress. All schools are graded using state assessments that measure student performance in reading, math, science, and writing.

There are four achievement components, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. These components include student performance on statewide standardized assessments, including the comprehensive assessments, and end-of- course (EOC) assessments. The components measure the percentage of full-year enrolled students who achieved a passing score.

Each component is worth up to 100 points in the overall calculation.

The points earned for each component are added together and divided by the total number of available points to determine the percentage of points earned.

School Grading Percentages

  • A = 62% of points or greater
  • B=54% to61% of points
  • C=41% to53% of points
  • D=32% to 40% of points
  • F = 31% of points or less]


School grades website

District Elementary School Grade Improvements as Determined by the State of Florida:

Beachland Elementary, Rosewood, Magnet Elementary, and Sebastian Charter Junior High School all improved to an A from a C grade.

Glendale Elementary moved up from a C grade to a B grade.

Dodgertown Elementary School improved from a D to a C grade.

Vero Beach Elementary School jumped from a F to a C grade!

Unfortunately, Liberty Magnet Elementary School went from an A to a B grade.


With respect to the Moonshot Academy’s contribution to the improved grades, students participating in their program increased their literacy proficiency on average, 57%, compared to 10% gains for non-Moonshot Academy students.

There were social and emotional achievements, as well.

Vero Beach Elementary schools discipline referrals dropped from 873 to 143, representing an 84% reduction.

Before implementing “Conscious Discipline,” Indian River Academy had one in four students (25%), sent to the office for misbehavior.  Last year that number was 4%, which is one in 25.

Suspensions dropped from 190 to 78.

The number of students suspended dropped from 95 to 34.

Conscious Discipline, embraced by Moonshot Academy, is a leader in classroom management and provides a transformational, whole-school solution for social-emotional learning, discipline and self-regulation.

Educators are equipped to integrate social-emotional learning, discipline and self-regulation so they spend less time policing behavior and more time teaching vital life skills.

It empowers parents with skills that create a safe, connected, problem-solving environment for families and uses everyday events to cultivate emotional intelligence through a self-regulation program integrating social-emotional learning and discipline.




There are still enormous challenge to continued success:

Indian River County poverty has increased over 40% in the last seven years.

Over 50% of births are to unwed mothers.

Poverty and dysfunctional families have children arriving at kindergarten are two – three years behind; many with personal trauma.



As a tribute to the contribution of Moonshot Academies, Mr. Ogelthorpe and Learning Alliance Co-Founder Barbara Hammond reviewed the results of the Endicott College’s Program Evaluation and & Research (PER) Group’s evaluation of the efforts of the Moonshot Academies’ contribution to K-5 reading achievements.

Endicott’s PER Group, Beverly MA, was engaged to do an independent study for The Learning Alliance.  They design evaluations that investigate how and why, as well as whether, a particular program is succeeding or failing in its implementation. This utilization-focused approach allows for ongoing discussion, analysis, and suggestions for change.

Key findings from their study concluded that:

  • Teachers reported transformation of practice as a result of the professional development received, resulting in positive impact on their students.
  • Observations showed strong evidence of transfer of professional development to practice in classrooms of teachers who have been most involved with TLA professional development.
  • TLA provides a strong professional development program that supports the social-emotional learning, foundational and applied literacy skills of students.
  • Teachers are moving away from a restricted learning environment to an enabling learning environment with high student engagement.

Debra Richardson Smith, Director of the PER Group, summarized their study by stating:

“We were impressed with the strong evidence of practice related to TLA’s goals in the classrooms of teachers who had been deeply involved with TLA’s (Moonshot) work. Students in these classrooms demonstrated strong social emotional skills, foundational literacy and applied literacy, all of which are linked to the deep learning critical to being 21st century citizens.

“Teachers who embraced the Moonshot training achieved academic gains 33-40% higher than a regular classroom.”

Lest we forget, the Annual Moonshot Moment Day of Service included a video on how the Moonshot Moment’s Mobil Reading Lab Travelled Over 2,200 Miles in June, 2017 to Support the Efforts of Grade Level Reading Organizations working to improve literacy for children.

Please see related article.


Moonshot 1






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