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May 27, 2004

Alia Faraj
(850) 488-5394

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush Signs Middle School Reform Legislation
Just Read, Florida! grants provide $16.7 million in additional resources for middle schools

MIAMI — Governor Jeb Bush today signed new legislation and announced additional Just Read, Florida! funding geared toward placing a focus on academics in middle school. The Middle Grades Reform Act uses reading as the foundation to increase student achievement in all subject areas. The Governor made the announcement at Shenandoah Middle School, where he was joined by the bill's House sponsor Representative Dennis K. Baxley, House Majority Leader Marco Rubio, House Education Pre-K through 12 Subcommittee Chairman Rafael Arza, Miami- Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Merrett Stierheim and Principal Lourdes F. Delgado.

"Students that have benefited from a focus on reading in the early grades are making dramatic improvement," said Governor Bush. "This legislation will drive the success of Just Read, Florida! into our middle schools."

The Governor announced $16.7 million in grants to place reading coaches in Florida's lowest-performing middle schools next year, including $13 million from the original budget request and an additional $3.7 million from Just Read, Florida! funds. These coaches provide on-site professional development for teachers and help them teach reading effectively. This additional Just Read, Florida! funding will impact more than 285,000 students in middle schools throughout Florida by providing 282 coaches to train 2,275 middle school teachers. A list of middle school reading coach grants by district is attached.

In addition to funding for reading coaches, the Middle Grades Reform Act includes the following provisions:

  • By the 2008-09 school year, all reading/language arts programs offered in middle grades must be research-based proven effective programs. The State Board of Education will consult with reading specialists and the Just Read, Florida! office to identify reading and language arts programs that are research-based proven effective programs.

  • Beginning with the 2004-05 school year, each public school with more than 25 percent of students in any one grade in grades six-eight not reading on grade level must develop a Rigorous Reading Requirement as the primary component of its school improvement plan.

  • The State Board of Education will conduct a Comprehensive Reform Study in consultation with school board members, superintendents, school administrators, parents, teachers and students, reviewing academic expectations, best practices to improve reading, strategies that focus on improving academic success for low-performing students, attendance policies and strategies, teacher quality, school leadership and parental and community involvement to determine all areas of middle grade education that need improvement.

  • Beginning in 2004-05, a Personalized Middle School Success Plan will be developed and implemented for each entering 6th grade student who scores below level 3 in Reading on the FCAT administration. The Personalized Success Plan will be based upon academic information and a student's overall strengths and weaknesses. The plan will be developed in collaboration with the student, parent, and teacher and must include specific academic, data-driven strategies to enable students to be successful in middle school and be ready for rigorous high school curriculum.

List of middle school reading coach grants by district