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[Tallahassee], Fla. – School districts, educators and students will receive extra support from the University of Florida to improve student outcomes in early learning, literacy and math thanks to House Bill 1361, which was signed into law Thursday.

Funded by the Legislature and approved by the Governor, the statute entrusts the UF Lastinger Center for Learning with a new statewide tutoring program and will support services to boost early learning and K-12 achievement throughout the state.

This education legislation creates new resources and enhances existing resources for students who need additional support in reading and/or mathematics. Furthermore, the bill creates a statute naming the University of Florida (UF) Lastinger Center for Learning and describes its duties in early learning, literacy, and mathematics.

  • Develop and administer programs to improve student achievement outcomes in early learning, literacy, and mathematics.
  • Provide professional learning for educators to improve the quality of instruction in early learning, literacy, and mathematics.
  • Provide technical assistance and support to school districts and schools in improving student achievement.
  • Conduct and publish research on teaching and learning in early learning, literacy, and mathematics.

Founded in 2002 at the UF College of Education by Allen and Delores Lastinger, the Center has a simple charge: To help teachers teach, and students learn. For the past 22 years, dedicated staff at the Lastinger Center have done just that, providing a broad range of educational support programs and services throughout Florida, across the country, and beyond. 

“We are deeply honored and humbled by the trust placed in us by the State of Florida to come alongside schools, educators, students and families to support learning at all levels,” shared Lastinger Center Director, Dr. Phil Poekert. “With the passage of this legislation, we’re eager to get to work supporting students and districts with tutoring resources, adding to the portfolio of supports we’ve offered for years.”

HB 1361 creates a new statewide tutoring program to equip districts, educators, and students with resources and skills to support one-on-one and small group tutoring instruction in reading and mathematics. As administrators of this new program, the UF Lastinger Center will:

  • Provide Science of Reading and math tutoring guidelines to public school districts.
  • Provide consultation services to districts creating and managing tutoring programs.
  • Provide professional learning course content to district staff on tutoring best practices.
  • Provide grant funds for districts to pay tutor stipends.
  • Provide grant funds for districts to support AI tutoring interventions for grades 6-12.
  • Provide online automated tutoring for those with substantial math/reading deficiency

Florida school district staff and other interested parties can sign up to receive updates on the program development, including funding opportunities at

In addition to codifying the Lastinger Center in statute and creating a new tutoring program, HB 1361 updates existing programs for students who are not yet on grade level in reading and/or mathematics.

  • HB 1361 updates the New Worlds Scholarship Accounts program, administered by Step Up for Students making funds available for eligible students in voluntary prekindergarten and revises how funds may be used.
  • HB 1361 names the UF Lastinger Center as administrator of the New Worlds Reading Initiative, which it has administered since the program’s 2021 inception. HB1361 also updates New Worlds Reading reporting requirements.

About the UF Lastinger Center for Learning

The UF Lastinger Center for Learning researches, develops, and scales equitable educational innovations for adults and children that put all learners on trajectories for lifelong success. With a portfolio ranging from early learning and literacy to mathematics and technology, the center supports transformative, sustainable change in collaboration with educators and other stakeholders in Florida, across the country, and around the world. Three strategic goals guide the center’s work: optimizing impact on teaching and learning, enhancing the scale of the center’s work and achieving long-term sustainability. To learn more about the Lastinger Center, please visit