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PRESS RELEASE

February 13, 2004

Frances Marine
(850) 245-0413

Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne Announce Award Presented to the Department of Education During the College Board Southern Regional Forum 2004
Award recognizes excellence in areas of Advanced Placement and PSAT participation

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne today announced an award presented to the Florida Department of Education (DOE) during the College Board Southern Regional Forum 2004 in Atlanta, GA. Chosen from among the College Board's 4500 member institutions in a rare recognition, the Department was honored with an award for outstanding achievements in education.

"Through a unique partnership with the College Board and support from the Legislature, we have gone to great lengths to increase opportunities for all Florida students," said Governor Bush. "I am proud of the progress we have made and commend the department for its efforts in reaching out to students who have been historically underrepresented in higher education."

Advanced placement (AP) participation in Florida public schools increased at nearly double the rate of growth seen in public schools nationwide from 2002-2003. Participation in Florida increased by 19.1 percent, while AP participation nationwide increased 9.6 percent. The number of African American students in Florida public schools that participate in the AP program has increased 115.6 percent since 1999. The number of Hispanic students in Florida public schools that participate in the AP program has increased 101.5 percent since 1999.

"As we continue to close the achievement gap in the lower grades, more of our students will be ready for advanced curriculum when they reach high school," said Commissioner Horne. "The College Board Partnership will provide all of our students with the opportunity to take classes that will prepare them for higher education and provide Florida with a more skilled workforce."

For the second year in a row, Florida had the largest one-year increase in African American AP test takers and it leads among the four largest states in one-year percentage increase in Hispanic test takers. The number of Florida public school tenth grade Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) takers has increased nearly 173 percent since 1999.

"Rather than requiring four signatures for students to take advanced courses, our goal in Florida is to require four signatures for them not to," said DOE Chief of Staff John Winn, who accepted the award on the department's behalf to enthusiastic applause at the 2004 Inspiration Luncheon.