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September 16, 2003

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Statement From Education Commissioner Jim Horne Regarding 9/17/03 Manhattan Institute Study

When it comes to Florida's high school graduation rates the most compelling story is the extent to which they've skyrocketed since Governor Bush took office. In 1998-1999, Florida's graduation rate was 60.2 percent. Four short years later, Florida students were graduating at a rate of 67.9 percent. That Florida has seen such a significant increase in high school graduation in only four years is testament to the fact that high standards, measurement and accountability add up to dramatically improved student achievement in the state of Florida.

The Manhattan Institute study points out that its method of calculating graduation rates is only an estimate. Florida's method of calculating graduation rates, however, is designed to measure characteristics unique to Florida's student population, such as large adult education programs, high mobility rates and alternative graduation options for students. Florida's measure, for example, accounts for special diploma and GED recipients, while The Manhattan Institute study does not count these graduates. Further, while Florida counts students who have moved out of state, into home schooling programs, into dropout prevention programs or adult education programs, the Manhattan Institute's study neglects to include any of these students.

Whether it's FCAT scores, graduation rates, the number of students taking Advanced Placement, PSAT or other college preparatory tests, achievement is the common theme in Florida education. We're proud of our record and will continue to build on it in the coming years.

Jim Horne
Commissioner of Education