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The Ledger: "Florida Schools Make Top 10 in Education Week Rankings"

January 10, 2013

Bill Kaczor, The Associated Press

Tallahassee | Florida's public schools have returned to the top 10 in a national ranking at sixth place because of high marks for coordinating kindergarten through 12th grade education with early learning, post-secondary education and the state's workforce.

Education Week on Thursday gave Florida an A for transitions and alignment, one of six categories that make up the publication's annual "Quality Counts" rankings for the 50 states and District of Columbia.

Florida's overall grade went up from C-plus to B-minus. This year's national average is C-plus.

The state had dropped from fifth to 11th last year largely because of weaker student performance and spending cuts. Last year's decline interrupted a rapid climb from 31st to fifth place in just four years.

"We obviously are very proud of the fact that we have made this rapid move up over the last number of years," said interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, who also serves as public schools chancellor.

Stewart also criticized the methodology that resulted in Florida's lower school finance grade of D-plus and predicted its C-minus for student achievement would improve next year.

Gov. Rick Scott, business leaders, lawmakers and State Board of Education members also hailed Florida's ranking as evidence the state's efforts to set high standards and hold schools accountable for reaching those goals are working. Florida's improvement in the rankings has coincided with those efforts spearheaded by former Gov. Jeb Bush as well as class-size limits that were ordered by voters but opposed by Bush and most other Republican politicians.

Stewart said additional improvement in Florida's graduation rate and the addition of a requirement for social studies and history assessments should bring the state's achievement grade up next year.

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