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PRESS RELEASE

October 29, 2002

Contact: Bill Edmonds
Florida Board of Education
(850) 201-7130
bill.edmonds@fldoe.org

Education Secretary Jim Horne announces dramatic gain in Florida's graduation rate and a decline in dropout rate

ORLANDO — Education Secretary Jim Horne announced today Florida's four-year high school graduation rate has climbed to 67.9 percent, a strong increase from the year earlier rate of 63.8 percent.

Horne said the graduation rate has improved dramatically over time as well, jumping from 60.2 percent in 1998-1999 to 67.9 percent in 2001-2002, according to the latest figures available.

"These gains in the graduation rate are a leap ahead for Florida," Horne said. "They show that school improvements are real and that the education reforms of the last four years are changing lives for the better for thousands of young Floridians."

Horne, in remarks at a charter school conference in Orlando, said almost half of Florida's 67 school districts had 2001-2002 graduation rates of 70 percent or higher. Eight districts showed four-year graduation rates of 80 percent or better.

Governor Jeb Bush said Florida educators and students should be proud of what the latest graduation rate gains tell about their hard work and dedication. "These numbers once again illustrate that we are making great progress in public education in Florida through the A+ Plan," the governor said. "Graduation rates are not yet high enough in our state, but they are improving greatly, and we should be very encouraged."

he governor called on teachers, principals and students to continue this progress. "Our next tasks will be to continue keeping students in high school through graduation, while ensuring that a Florida diploma signifies real academic achievement and solid preparation for higher education."

Horne noted that 19 districts showed an increase of 10 percentage points or greater since 1998-1999. "This shows that the improvements to our public schools are widespread," Horne said.

The districts showing graduation-rate gains of greater than 10 percent are:

Graduation Rate Change, 1998-99 to 2001-02
  1998-99 1999-00 2000-01 2001-02 Graduation Rate Change,
1998-99 to 2001-02
BREVARD 64.0% 80.4% 86.8% 88.5% 25 point increase
MARTIN 60.6% 83.3% 85.4% 84.4% 24 point increase
UNION 61.0% 58.8% 63.2% 78.4% 17 point increase
ORANGE 51.3% 49.5% 59.8% 68.3% 17 point increase
BRADFORD 60.4% 67.4% 70.8% 75.2% 15 point increase
DIXIE 60.5% 71.2% 73.8% 75.1% 15 point increase
SEMINOLE 63.3% 67.0% 70.9% 77.8% 15 point increase
BAY 55.9% 65.9% 68.3% 70.3% 14 point increase
POLK 53.3% 55.3% 52.6% 66.9% 14 point increase
INDIAN RIVER 65.2% 64.9% 65.9% 78.9% 14 point increase
HAMILTON 54.3% 70.4% 59.5% 67.9% 14 point increase
ST. LUCIE 63.5% 62.9% 69.6% 77.0% 14 point increase
MANATEE 56.2% 61.4% 65.2% 68.9% 13 point increase
BROWARD 53.5% 63.9% 62.3% 65.2% 12 point increase
VOLUSIA 70.1% 74.9% 77.0% 81.5% 11 point increase
MARION 57.9% 60.3% 65.2% 69.1% 11 point increase
SUWANNEE 60.6% 57.7% 60.7% 71.2% 11 point increase
OSCEOLA 55.7% 58.9% 58.4% 66.1% 10 point increase
SANTA ROSA 75.4% 73.5% 75.4% 85.5% 10 point increase

Horne also announced that as the four-year graduation rate increased, the dropout-rate declined. In 1998-1999, the statewide dropout rate was 5.4 percent. It has now fallen to 3.2 percent.

"More students are graduating, and fewer students are dropping out," Horne said. "This is very good news for the future of Florida."

Attached are charts of graduation rates for each school district, of state graduation rate changes, and of the changes in the state dropout rate.