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October 28, 2003

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Jim Horne Announces Florida First State to Receive Education Flexibility Grant Under No Child Left Behind
Eight districts also receive grants, Commissioner Horne visits Putnam on his way to "Capital for a Day" in St. Augustine

PALATKA — Education Commissioner Jim Horne today announced that Florida is the first state approved by the U.S. Department of Education under the No Child Left Behind Act's State Flexibility Authority Program (State-Flex). State-Flex allows states flexibility to use certain federal funds as appropriate for state-level priorities in exchange for increased accountability for student academic progress.

"State-Flex provides Florida the opportunity to direct federal funds to areas that will produce the best results in terms of student achievement," said Commissioner Horne. "By tracking learning gains, investing in leadership development, and providing the support teachers need to remain in the profession, we will ensure that the needs of Florida's students are met."

Over $30 million in federal funds a year for each of five years will be used at both the state and local levels to meet three goals:

  • Every child who is below proficient in reading and mathematics will have individual proficiency targets that, if met, will lead to proficiency within four years;
  • Every parent of a public school student will know where his or her child is in relation to proficiency and how far the student must advance each year to achieve grade-level proficiency;
  • The rate of teacher-initiated separation from teaching within the first five years will decrease by 50 percent.

Approved states must enter into performance agreements with between four and 10 school districts, half of which must be high poverty. As part of its State-Flex plan, Florida has entered into local performance agreements with eight school districts: Broward, Escambia, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lake, Marion, Putnam and Volusia. Horne made the announcement in Putnam County on his way to "Capital for a Day" in St. Augustine.

Putnam County Schools Superintendent David Buckles joined Commissioner Horne in making the announcement at Jenkins Middle School in Palatka. Putnam County proposes to focus its efforts and resources on the two lowest performing groups in the eighth grade, which has proven to be a pivotal year for students in the district. The district will use more than $4.5 million on initiatives such as staff development and training, beginning with eighth grade teachers and adding seventh grade teachers the second year, sixth grade teachers the third and so forth.

In addition to working with its performance partners, Florida will require districts who are not participating as partners to use approximately $16 million in Title V, Innovative Programs funds, for one or more of the following:

  • Implementation of any or all of the three established goals;
  • Just Read, Florida! activities, particularly at the middle and high school levels;
  • Assisting students who are not achieving proficiency in reading and mathematics.

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