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PRESS RELEASE

June 2, 2004

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Horne Announces Improved School Information for Parents
New school report card provides information on school grades, areas needing improvement, and return on investment

TAMPA — Education Commissioner Jim Horne today announced a new school report card that provides parents with information on school performance. The report card, which parents can access online, provides the school's grade under the A+ Plan for Education, information on which areas may need improvement under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and where to go for information on options available to parents. It also contains information showing how student performance relates to money spent at the school-level, also known as return on investment.

"As a father of four, I understand the importance of making informed decisions for our children," said Commissioner Horne. "Florida has led the way in providing parents with feedback on how their children are meeting standards. Today, we are arming them with even more information on how our schools are helping their children get there, and I encourage all parents to take the time to learn more about their child's school."

Both the state and federal laws evaluate how well students have mastered the Sunshine State Standards - the skills Florida teachers determined our children must learn at each grade level - which are measured by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). School Grades, assigned under the A+ Plan are based on: how well students are doing, how much progress they are making (learning gains), and how much progress struggling readers are making (since reading is essential to success in all subject areas).

NCLB requires each student subgroup (all ethnic groups, students with disabilities, students learning English, and economically disadvantaged students) in schools, districts, and the state as a whole to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) in reading, mathematics, writing, and graduation rate. Passage of NCLB came with billions more in federal education funding for low-income students. Schools that do not make enough progress in each area for two years in a row are in need of improvement, and must use those funds to provide alternatives to parents - such as transferring to another school or participating in a different program within the school.

Schools that need improvement two years in a row (do not make AYP for 3 consecutive years) must provide tutoring. Florida was among the first six states to post NCLB information on www.schoolresults.org, a website hosted by the U.S. Department of Education through the School Information Partnership.

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) will release 2004 School Grades and AYP designations in the coming weeks. Last year, most Florida schools needed to make progress in at least one area under the federal law. In preparation for this year's results, DOE has worked closely with school districts in a number of ways, including: five regional workshops for school district personnel, technical assistance to schools and school districts, and providing a fact sheet for parents.

In addition to School Grades, AYP designations, and information on options for parents, the new report card depicts a School Efficiency Indicator (return on investment), which relates money spent at the school-level with student performance at that school. Over the next few weeks, DOE will make the report card available on-line in both English and Spanish and will partner with public libraries, the faith-based community, PTA groups, and other community organizations to provide access for parents wishing to learn more about their children's schools.

For more information on the new report card, school grades, AYP, and school efficiency, please visit www.fldoe.org.