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PRESS RELEASE

September 5, 2003

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Jim Horne Presents George S. Hallmark Elementary School With School Recognition Dollars
Horne Presents Check for $30,054; Schools statewide receive $137.5 million in school recognition funds this year

PENSACOLA — Education Commissioner Jim Horne this morning presented George S. Hallmark Elementary School in Escambia County a check for $30,054 in school recognition funds. The visit to Hallmark Elementary was the fourth stop on a two-day School Recognition Tour. The school improved its school grade from a "D" to a "B" during the 2002-03 academic year.

"It is my pleasure to present this check to our schools that have worked so hard to achieve this level of student achievement," said Commissioner Horne. "We know our students can learn and this proves it. Governor Bush's A+ Plan and his commitment to education demonstrate that our students continue to meet and exceed our expectations. I congratulate the administrators, teachers, students, and parents for their outstanding efforts."

The principal at George S. Hallmark Elementary focuses on a rich curriculum and allows the FCAT to "take care of itself." Teachers use SRA Direct Instruction for reading and Successmaker for mathematics to provide instruction. Even though this school is the 9th poorest school in the state, 67 percent made learning gains in reading, 85 percent made learning gains in mathematics, and 97 percent made learning gains in writing. Teachers also use a program to create tests aligned to the Sunshine State Standards so they can track students' progress.

The A+ School Recognition Program acknowledges schools that are achieving and showing improvement. All of Florida's public schools received report cards with grades on an "A" through "F" scale. The program recognizes schools that have improved at least one letter grade or received an "A" for the 2002-2003 school year. Schools that improve at least one grade or receive an "A" based primarily on student achievement are being rewarded with $100 per student.

In addition to George S. Hallmark Elementary, 33 other Escambia County schools received over $2 million dollars in school recognition dollars for earning an "A" or showing improvement. Recognition funds can be used by a school to cover the costs of non-recurring faculty and student incentives such as pizza parties, educational equipment, or hiring temporary personnel to assist in maintaining and improving student performance.

Since 1999, $443.3 million has been awarded to eligible schools receiving an "A" performance grade or schools improving at least one performance grade category from the previous year.

Under the leadership of Governor Bush, accomplishments for education include:

  • A+/RISING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: From 1998 to 2003, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) reading scores have improved significantly for students in Florida. Minority students have made the most dramatic improvements. For example, this year 60 percent of all 4th graders met or surpassed the proficient level (scoring Level 3 and above) on the FCAT reading, up from 51 percent in 1998. Other 4th grade improvements include: 41 percent of African American students scored at or above grade level in 2003 compared to 23 percent in 1998. 51 percent of Hispanic students scored at or above grade level in 2003 compared to 38 percent in 1998. 73 percent of white students scored at or above grade level in 2003 compared to 65 percent in 1998.
  • A+ PLAN/SCHOOL GRADES: The results of the FCAT released in May revealed the biggest improvement in student achievement to date. The number of schools receiving a grade of "A" or "B" rose from 1,447 in 2002 to 1,799 this year, while the number of "D" and "F" schools dropped from 249 in 2002 to 176 this year. The Governor's Assistance Plus program continues to provide failing schools with additional resources to address their areas of weakness. In addition to increased funding - approximately $1,000 more per student - failing schools receive school improvement facilitators, reading coaches, and technical assistance, as well as assessments to monitor student progress.
  • FUNDING INCREASES: A five-year funding increase of more than $3.7 billion - 34 percent - which far surpasses Florida's significant student growth in the same period of 11 percent. Per student funding has increased by $989 in five years, a 20 percent increase.
  • MENTORING: Currently there are more than 135,000 mentors statewide. Governor Bush has set a goal of 200,000 mentors throughout the state. The budget signed by the Governor this year allocates $12.25 million to support mentoring through such programs as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Governor's Mentoring Initiative, Take Stock in Children and Best Buddies.
  • JUST READ, FLORIDA!: In fiscal year 2003-2004, this initiative received $25 million a 127 percent increase over fiscal year 2002-2003. The initiative is based on the latest reading research that includes emphasis on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. The goal of the initiative is for every Florida child reading on grade level or better by 2012. The program, unveiled in 2001, prioritizes reading in Florida's public schools and among all the community groups and volunteer organizations that support them.
  • ADVANCED PLACEMENT/PSAT-SAT SCORES: Florida's high school students continue to show improvement on standardized placement tests. The latest results show the number of SAT test takers in Florida increased 10 percent to more than 83,400 - the highest ever. Florida's average verbal score rose two points, due largely to higher scores among Hispanic, African American and Asian males. Results indicate students who take advanced courses have significantly higher scores. The number of Advanced Placement (AP) test takers increased by 19 percent, compared to 10 percent for the U.S. In addition, 14 percent of all public school sophomore PSAT takers are Floridians.

Commissioner Horne visited George S. Hallmark Elementary on the second leg of a two-day tour of schools in Polk, Volusia, Alachua, Escambia, Okaloosa, and Jackson Counties.

A list of Escambia County schools receiving school recognition funds is below.

Hellen Caro Elementary School$85,144
Jim Allen Elementary School $60,220
Barrineau Park Elementary School $23,130
Bellview Elementary School $74,052
Bratt Elementary School $35,341
N.B. Cook Elementary School $71,123
Cordova Park Elementary School $52,649
Edgewater Elementary School $49,135
Ensley Elementary School $49,636
Ferry Pass Elementary School $58,839
Ferry Pass Middle School $101,420
George S. Hallmark Elementary School $30,054
Molino Park Elementary School$22,048
Myrtle Grove Elementary School $66,576
Navy Point Elementary School $50,613
Oakcrest Elementary School $48,468
Pleasant Grove Elementary School $55,852
Scenic Heights Elementary School $74,240
O.J. Semmes Montessori Academy $40,362
Sherwood Elementary School $55,222
A.K. Suter Elementary School $26,558
J.M. Tate High School $198,936
Warrington Elementary School $51,307
C.A. Weis Elementary School $63,085
West Pensacola Elementary School $55,840
Brown-Barge Middle School $50,022
Lincoln Park Elementary School $40,190
Longleaf Elementary School $66,994
L.D. McArthur Elementary School $59,064
Beulah Elementary School $60,854
R. C. Lipscomb Elementary School $80,940
Bailey Middle School $147,697
Byrneville Charter School $16,580
Pensacola Beach Elementary School $12,590
Escambia County total $2,034,781