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PRESS RELEASE

June 19, 2003

Alia Faraj
(850) 488-5394

Frances Marine
Press Secretary
(850) 245-0413

Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne Announce Results of 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading
Florida triples national learning gains in 8th grade reading, doubles the gains in 4th grade

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne today announced Florida's reading results under the 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The results are consistent with student achievement under the Governor's A+ Plan for Education, with more students scoring at or above basic level and fewer scoring below basic. From 1998-2002, Florida's learning gains in eighth grade reading were three times what they were for the nation as a whole. Florida's learning gains in fourth grade reading were twice the national gain.

"The changes we have made in education during the past four years have resulted in higher student achievement. Teachers and principals throughout our state have risen to the challenge and are making a difference in the lives of Florida's students. Good things will continue to happen as we continue down the path of a student-centered education system," said Governor Bush. "Not only are more students reading on grade level than ever before, Florida is closing the achievement gap by using accountability to identify and address those areas where students need the most help."

Florida experienced more dramatic learning gains than did the nation as a whole. In eighth grade reading, Florida improved its score by six points (from 255 to 261), while the national average only improved by two points (from 261-263). In fourth grade reading, Florida improved its score by eight points (from 206 to 214), while the national average by only four points (from 213 to 217).

"We have raised standards in Florida and students are responding," said Commissioner Horne. "These scores indicate we are moving in the right direction and the Governor's A+ Plan for Education will drive Florida to success on a national level."

From 1998-2002, the average reading scores for Florida's fourth graders rose by eight points, compared to a one-point increase in scores from 1994-1998. The overall percentage of fourth grade students scoring at proficient and advanced levels rose from 22 percent in 1998 to 27 percent in 2002. Meanwhile, the overall percentage of fourth grade students scoring below basic dropped from 47 percent in 1998 to 40 percent in 2002.

The percentage of eighth grade students scoring at proficient or advanced levels increased by six points between 1998 and 2002, from 23 to 29 percent. The overall percentage of eighth grade students scoring below basic in reading dropped by five points between 1998 and 2002, from 33 to 28 percent.

As with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), minority students made significant learning gains on NAEP Reading. The percentage scoring below basic among African American fourth graders dropped by eight points and the percentage scoring below basic among Hispanics fell by seven points. Among African American eighth graders, the percentage scoring below basic fell by eleven points.

For more information regarding Florida's performance on the 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading, log on to: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states.

Please find the attached NAEP charts.