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PRESS RELEASE

March 31, 2005

Vivian Myrtetus
(850) 245-0413

High Schools Honored for Use of Online Guidance System
Helps Students Plan Better, Graduate on Time, Qualify for Scholarships

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John Winn today honored 70 high schools statewide that have the highest amount of students using FACTS.org, the state's online academic advising web site. Winn recognized schools around the state, but heaped the highest praise on Miami-Dade County Schools, where 13 high schools were honored for their use of the system.

"Students who use the tools on FACTS.org are more likely to set goals and meet them because they have so much useful information at their fingertips," Commissioner Winn said. "Students can manage their learning online and avoid senior year surprises by making sure they are taking the classes and maintaining the GPA they need to get into the college of their choice or qualify for a Bright Futures scholarship."

Recognizing the challenges guidance counselors face, the Legislature created FACTS.org to give students and parents the tools they need to plan and track students' academic progress. Since it was launched in 2000, there have been over 21 million hits to the site.

Because one key to student success in high school is planning early and checking progress often, the Department of Education is promoting the use of a state-sponsored web site. It allows students to plan classes, check grades, and track their individual progress against graduation, Bright Futures scholarships, and state university admissions requirements. With this technology, students can know exactly where they stand and what needs to be accomplished.

Besides helping students and parents, FACTS.org is important to guidance counselors, who serve an integral role in student success through a focus on academic achievement, career, and personal development.

"FACTS.org is great. The student-counselor ratio makes it difficult to reach everyone. Students can evaluate their progress, research issues and come back to me with specific questions and some direction," said Terri Gimble, Lincoln High School guidance counselor. "Since qualifying for scholarships is a common concern, I also refer parents to the site to get their child's Bright Futures GPA."

Research suggests that students who engage in career exploration and planning activities are more likely to stay in school and are more focused in their career and academic goals.

FACTS.org, Florida's one-stop statewide student advising system, is an acronym for Florida Academic Counseling and Tracking for Students. The system was designed by the Florida Department of Education to help high school and college students make informed choices about their education. Launched in 2000, FACTS.org offers a comprehensive suite of services that gives users the unique ability to get all the information they need in one place for monitoring high school progress, learning about postsecondary opportunities in Florida, deciding career objectives, applying to college online, choosing the right major and evaluating progress towards a degree. It is administered by the Florida Center for Advising and Academic Support (FCAAS) with offices in Tallahassee and Tampa, Florida.

Schools were separated into seven population divisions based on the Florida High School Athletic Association classifications; the usage rate was calculated based on enrollment. The top ten schools of each division were awarded certificates of recognition and the number one school (shown in bold) in each division received an award. Miami-Dade County received a district award for their overall efforts; Miami-Dade had 13 of the 70 certificates, with 3 top performers.

Schools honored include:

High School District
Newberry High School Alachua
Gainesville High School Alachua
F. W. Buchholz High School Alachua
Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School Brevard
West Shore Jr/Sr High School Brevard
Merritt Island Senior High School Brevard
Satellite Senior High School Brevard
North Lauderdale Academy High School Broward
Plantation High School Broward
Stoneman Douglas High School Broward
Keystone Heights Jr-Sr High School Clay
Fleming Island High School Clay
School For Advanced Studies Dade
School For Advanced Studies Dade
School For Advanced Studies Dade
Doral Academy High School Dade
Mast Academy Dade
New World School Of The Arts Dade
Miami Lakes Educational Center Dade
William Turner Technical Arts High School Dade
Southwest Miami Senior High School Dade
Coral Reef Senior High School Dade
North Miami Senior High School Dade
Miami Coral Park Senior School Dade
North Miami Beach Senior High School Dade
A. Philip Randolph Academies Duval
Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Duval
Paxon School for Advanced Studies Duval
Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology Duval
Stanton College Preparatory Duval
Mandarin High School Duval
Washington Senior High School Escambia
Florida State University School FSU
Port St. Joe High School Gulf
Hamilton County High School Hamilton
Hardee Senior High School Hardee
Hernando High School Hernando
Avon Park High School Highlands
Hillsborough Senior High School Hillsborough
Wharton High School Hillsborough
Durant High School Hillsborough
Graceville High School Jackson
Fort Myers High School Lee
Lincoln High School Leon
Leon High School Leon
Manatee High School Manatee
Jensen Beach High School Martin
Martin County High School Martin
Okaloosa Walton Community College Charter High School Okaloosa
Robert Hungerford Preparatory High School Orange
Glades Central High School Palm Beach
Spanish River High School Palm Beach
Gulf High School Pasco
River Ridge Middle/High School Pasco
Land O'Lakes High School Pasco
James W. Mitchell High School Pasco
Seminole High Pinellas
Polk Community College Polk
Mulberry Senior High Polk
McKeel Academy Of Technology Polk
Lake Gibson Senior High School Polk
Interlachen High School Putnam
Crescent City Junior/Senior High School Putnam
Gulf Breeze High School Santa Rosa
Pace High School Santa Rosa
Riverview High School Sarasota
Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind FSDB
The Villages Charter High School Sumter
Taylor County High School Taylor
Paxton High School Walton

Note: Photographs attached