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March 28, 2003

Pam Bryant
Assistant Director of Communications
(850) 201-7130

Education Commissioner urges school superintendents to take steps to help students meet new education standards

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner Jim Horne announced today that he has asked Florida school superintendents to take proactive measures to help students reach new academic standards for promotion.

At a meeting Thursday of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, Horne urged members to develop intensive summer reading programs beginning this year to help students with low Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test reading scores, particularly third and tenth graders. This year is the first year that third grade students must score in FCAT achievement level two or higher in order to be promoted to fourth grade without a "good cause exemption." Seniors must also pass the FCAT as one of the requirements to receive a standard high school diploma.

"These third and tenth grade students on the cusp are within our grasp and we must not let them slip by unaided," said Horne to superintendents. "I challenge you today to return to your districts and organize your resources to meet the immediate needs of as many of these students as possible."

Horne added that resources must be used in a targeted way to ensure students are given the opportunity to reach proficiency and master the Sunshine State standards. He encouraged school superintendents to increase their support efforts and rely on the Department of Education to provide numerous services to assist districts, teachers and parents.