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PRESS RELEASE

June 15, 2004

Alia Faraj
(850) 488-5394

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush Announces 2004 School Grades
Governor touts continued student progress, with more 'A' schools and more schools meeting federal criteria under No Child Left Behind

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush today announced more than two-thirds of Florida public schools are high performing. Under the A+ Plan for Education, 68 percent of Florida's public schools received an 'A' or 'B' this year compared to 21 percent in 1999. Similarly, under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, nearly 64 percent of schools met at least 9 out of 10 criteria for "adequate yearly progress" (AYP), with 23 percent meeting all criteria.

"High expectations continue to yield rising student achievement and impressive school improvement in our state," Governor Bush said. "Under our A+ Plan and the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Florida is building further on high standards and accountability, resulting in tremendous student progress. A+ and NCLB are giving schools the tools to locate struggling students and provide them with the resources and choices to ensure all children are learning."

Florida has twice raised standards under the A+ Plan, yet there has also been a significant reduction in the number of struggling schools. This year only nine percent of public schools received a 'D' or 'F' compared to 28 percent in 1999. Last year's 'F' schools made great strides with the help of Assistance Plus, which provides reading and math coaches, technical assistance, and partners 'F' schools with successful schools that have faced similar challenges.

"Just as we believe all students can learn, we know a school's ability to succeed is not dictated by the background of the children it serves," said Education Commissioner Jim Horne. "All across Florida, dynamic principals, dedicated teachers, engaged parents and communities are helping children achieve. We will continue to work with districts to make sure all our schools continue on the path to progress."

Today, the State Board of Education will consider additional ways to help chronically struggling schools by requiring school districts with 'F' schools to implement the following:

  • Quality Educators - school districts must do whatever it takes to provide the students that need the most help with the teachers best equipped to provide it, even if this requires suspension of contracts.

  • Targeted Funding - school districts must adopt a special budget category for 'F' schools within their annual budget.

  • End Social Promotion - in addition to following state laws with regard to 3rd graders, school districts must adopt policies to keep feeder schools from promoting unprepared students to the next level.

  • Individual Student Success Plans - school districts must adopt plans centered around the individual areas of difficulty for students who have fallen behind.

This year, the Department of Education unveiled a new school report card that provides parents with a comprehensive look at their child's school, with results under state and federal standards, as well as information on spending at the school level. For more information please visit www.myflorida.com.