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PRESS RELEASE

July 10, 2003

Contact: 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) Writing
Florida scores in top 10 for the first time

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne today announced that Florida's writing scores increased more significantly than the rest of the nation under the 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In addition, Florida's fourth graders ranked eighth in the nation in writing — the first time the state has scored in the top ten. 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 minority students making significant learning gains.

"Thanks to the hard work of Florida's principals, teachers, and students, our state performed well above the national average in writing," said Governor Bush. "Earlier this year, FCAT Writing results showed that our children have reached the highest level of performance since we began testing writing a decade ago. Today's NAEP results prove that accountability works."

As with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), minority students made significant learning gains on NAEP Writing. In fact, Florida's Hispanic fourth graders ranked third in the nation and Hispanic eighth graders ranked fifth in the nation. Scale scores for Florida's African-American fourth graders were significantly higher than the national average and scale scores for African-American eighth graders rose by 11 points, compared with a four-point improvement in national scale scores.

"During the past four years, with increased accountability, professional development, and hard-working teachers, our eighth graders not only caught up to the rest of the nation, they surpassed the national average," said Commissioner Horne. "Today's results are proof positive that what gets measured gets done."

Eighth graders showed dramatic improvement in writing. While Florida ranked 29th out of 39 states assessed in 1998, this year our eighth graders ranked 17th out of 46 states assessed.

Florida's average writing scores increased more significantly than the rest of the nation. For example, from 1998 to 2002, the average writing score for Florida's eighth graders jumped from 142 to 154, while the national average score (for eighth graders) improved from 148 to 152. In addition, the only large states that performed better than Florida on the NAEP 2002 Writing Assessment were Massachusetts (in both 4th and 8th grade) and New York (in 4th grade only).

The NAEP, also known as "the Nation's Report Card," is a national assessment of what students can do in various subject areas. For more information regarding Florida's performance on the 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Writing, log on to: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/writing/.