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PRESS RELEASE

June 20, 2003

Alia Faraj / Jill Bratina
(850) 488-5394 / (850) 321-1030

Frances Marine
Press Secretary
(850) 245-0413

Governor Signs Bill to Strengthen Accountability in Education
New legislation maintains high standards, while providing additional opportunities for students not meeting graduation requirements

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush today signed legislation that will strengthen the state's commitment to accountability in education. The new law maintains high standards by allowing equivalent SAT and ACT scores to count as the exit test requirement for high school graduation. The legislation also lays out three additional learning opportunities for any student who does not meet the graduation requirements.

"We have seen that high standards and accountability yield impressive results when it comes to student achievement," said Governor Bush. "By offering an alternate, but equivalent assessment of a high school graduate's skills, this legislation addresses critics of accountability without lowering standards."

The current high school exit test is the 10th Grade Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Acceptable alternate assessments for high school seniors may include the SAT, ACT, College Placement Test, PSAT, PLAN, and tests used for entrance into the military. Comparable passing scores will be determined by the Commissioner of Education. However, use of such scores beyond this year's graduating class will require legislative approval.

"Based on a preliminary look at what we might consider equivalent passing scores on SAT and ACT, we estimate that only about 400 out of approximately 13,000 students in the class of 2003 that scored Level 1 on the FCAT would be affected," said Education Commissioner Jim Horne.

In addition to allowing concurrent scores on alternate assessments, the bill provides additional learning opportunities for students who have not met graduation requirements. First, it provides for an accelerated GED (General Education Diploma). Second, it allows students who received a certificate of completion to take the College Placement Test. If they obtain a score on the College Placement Test that is equivalent to passing the 10th Grade FCAT, they may take college credit courses. Finally, it allows high school seniors who have not succeeded on FCAT to enroll in adult education programs for free, receive remedial instruction, and take the FCAT an unlimited number of times.

For more information on the legislation relating to high school graduation or other bills Governor Bush has signed, please visit www.myflorida.com.