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PRESS RELEASE

November 13, 2003

Alia Faraj
(850) 488-5394

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne Announce Results of 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
Florida continues dramatic learning gains, only state to show improvement in 4th grade reading

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne today announced Florida's reading and mathematics results under the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Florida is the only state to show significant improvement in fourth grade reading and has posted improvement in both reading and math for nearly all student groups. Florida surpassed the national average in fourth grade reading and is at the national average in fourth grade math for the first time. While eighth grade achievement is consistent with national trends, Florida's mathematics scores improved more than the national average.

"Our focus on reading, especially in the lower grades, has paid off. I want to thank the students, teachers, principals and parents whose hard work has made Florida the only state to show significant improvement in fourth grade. The fact that all students have achieved on this national test regardless of ethnic background proves the premise of our education reforms - that with the right focus, all children can learn," said Governor Jeb Bush.

In fourth grade reading, Florida improved its score by four points (from 214 to 218), while the national score dipped slightly (from 217 to 216). This brings Florida's gain since 1998 to four times the national gain (12 points, compared to 3). Hispanic students improved by four points (from 207 to 211), while the national score for Hispanic students remained the same (199). Florida's gain among Hispanic students since 1998 is nearly twice the national gain (13 points, compared to 7). Florida's African American students also made progress (from 196 to 198) and surpassed their national counterparts, whose score dipped slightly (from 198 to 197). The improvement among African American students in Florida since 1998 is more than twice the national gain (12 points, compared to 5 points).

"We, along with the rest of the nation, clearly need to work with our eighth graders. Based on our experience in the lower grades there is no doubt that with the right focus, we can help our students achieve," said Education Commissioner Jim Horne. "To that end, we have launched a middle school initiative aimed at ensuring that those students who did not benefit from early focus and intervention receive the help they need now."

In eighth grade reading, Florida's students slipped (from 261 to 257), as did the national average (from 263 to 261). However, the average score today in Florida remains higher than it was in 1998 (257 compared to 255), while the national average is exactly as it was in 1998 (261). "I am very pleased that our fourth graders have not only surpassed the national average in reading, they have caught up to the national average in math as well," said Governor Jeb Bush. "While our eighth graders are not there yet, it is encouraging that their scores improved more than the national average in math."

In fourth grade math, Florida is at the national average for the first time. Florida improved more than the nation as a whole - from 216 in 1996 (the last time NAEP Math was administered) to 234 this year. The national average increased by 12 points (from 222 to 234) compared to Florida's 18 point jump.

In eighth grade math, Florida's students showed more improvement (from 264 to 271) than the national average (up from 271 to 276). In all subjects and across all grades, 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 fewer scoring below basic.

For more information regarding Florida's performance on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading and Mathematics, log on to: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states.

For charts depicting Florida's NAEP results please visit: www.fldoe.org or www.myflorida.com.