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PRESS RELEASE

May 10, 2004

Alia Faraj
850)488-5394

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush, Lt. Governor Jennings, Education Commissioner Horne and Chancellor Warford Announce Results of 2004 FCAT
More students reading at or above grade level, steady progress continues in math

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush today announced a continued trend of rising student achievement on the 2004 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results. The greatest improvements over last year continued to be in reading among elementary grades, with 68 percent of third and fourth grade students reading at or above grade level, compared to 55 percent in 2001. Governor Bush made the announcement at Fairview Middle School in Tallahassee then went on to visit North Shore Elementary School in St. Petersburg. Lt. Governor Toni Jennings, Education Commissioner Jim Horne and K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Jim Warford also announced FCAT results in Jacksonville, Daytona, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and Youngstown.

"Through the efforts of dedicated teachers, along with supportive parents and communities, Florida's students continue to see steady progress," said Governor Bush. "We have come a long way and will continue to focus on reading, so our middle school and high school students will meet with the same success we have seen in the early grades."

This year, more than half of the Florida students who take the FCAT (grades 3-10) are reading at or above grade level for the first time in the state's history. From 2001 to 2004, Florida students have shown significant progress in both reading and mathematics. This year, Minority students continued to narrow the achievement gap, with both Hispanic and African American students improving nearly twice as fast in reading and three times as fast in mathematics as their white counterparts.

"Year after year, Florida students are showing steady progress," said Lt. Governor Jennings. "As a former fifth grade teacher, I know how hard our state's teachers are working to help all of our students learn, and I applaud them for the tremendous contribution they have made to Florida's impressive progress."

Statewide reading results for grades 3-10 were as follows:

  • 51 percent of all students performed at or above grade level, compared to 46 percent in 2001 (an increase of more than 10 percent or 68,700 students since 2001).

  • 32 percent of African American students performed at or above grade level, compared to 25 percent in 2001 (an increase of nearly 26 percent or 22,300 students since 2001).

  • 42 percent of Hispanic students performed at or above grade level, compared to 35 percent in 2001 (an increase of more than 21 percent or 20,000 students since 2001).

  • 63 percent of white students performed at or above grade level compared to 59 percent in 2001 (an increase of nearly 7 percent or 31,200 students since 2001).

"As more of our teachers receive the training they need, and more of our students discover the joy of reading, performance will improve in all subject areas," said Commissioner Horne. "We must stay the course."

Statewide mathematics results for grades 3-10 were as follows:

  • 56 percent of all students performed at or above grade level, compared to 48 percent in 2001 (an increase of more than 16 percent or 111,700 students since 2001).

  • 34 percent of African American students performed at or above grade level, compared to 25 percent in 2001 (an increase of more than 37 percent or 31,500 students since 2001).

  • 49 percent of Hispanic students performed at or above grade level, compared to 39 percent in 2001 (an increase nearly 26 percent or 27,700 students since 2001).

  • 68 percent of white students performed at or above grade level, compared to 60 percent in 2001 (an increase of nearly 13 percent or 59,600 students since 2001).

"The hard work of Florida's teachers continues to pay off," said Chancellor Warford. "Behind every rising score is the face of a student with increased opportunity."

Students showed improvement in reading at every grade level, except 8th and 10th, where the percent of students reading at or above grade level decreased and students reading below basic increased. In mathematics, every grade except 6th and 8th grade showed improvement. This year, Governor Bush and the Department of Education worked with the Florida Legislature to address the need for more academic rigor in middle school. The Governor's Middle Grades Reform Act passed unanimously in both the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate on April 30, 2004.

In addition, increased investment in K-12 public schools continues in the 2004-05 budget. Funding for K-12 public schools rose by more than $1 billion over last year through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), an increase of 7.3 percent. This represents a per student increase of $269 over the current year budget, an increase of 4.9 percent. These increases exceed the expected 2.3 percent growth in enrollment for 2004-05. Over the past six years, per pupil funding has increased by more than $1,200 per student to $6,094 for 2004-05.

The Legislature also increased funding for reading programs through the Governor's Just Read, Florida! initiative. For 2004-05, an increase of $15 million will provide resources for additional reading coaches, diagnostic assessments, teacher professional development opportunities, and parental outreach. This translates into 440 reading coaches in schools across the state, including 236 reading coaches in middle schools.

In addition to FCAT scores for reading and mathematics, parents will receive FCAT scores for science. Achievement levels in science will be established as early as September 2004. Score reports currently show how students performed in comparison to other students.

Lt. Governor Jennings today also visited Campbell Middle School in Daytona Beach and Annie R. Morgan Elementary School in Jacksonville, Commissioner Horne visited Stephen Foster Elementary School in Ft. Lauderdale and Meadow Woods Middle School in Orlando and Chancellor Warford visited Waller Elementary School in Youngstown to celebrate Florida's education success.

For complete 2004 FCAT results, please visit: http://fcat.fldoe.org/.