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May 16, 2005

Jacob DiPietre
(850) 488-5394

Melanie Mowry Etters
(850) 245-0413

U.S. Education Secretary Spellings Announces No Child Left Behind Amendment Flexibility
Florida First State to Receive NCLB Flexibility

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Education Commissioner John Winn received good news today from United States Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Today Secretary Spellings granted Florida two No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Plan amendments because Florida has led the nation in rising student achievement and for meeting the goals of NCLB. The amendments give the state additional flexibility in calculating the educational progress of Florida students, while ensuring that all students are held to high educational standards.

"I'm here today to grant Florida additional flexibility as it implements No Child Left Behind," Secretary Spellings said. "Florida is doing great things for its students through its efforts to raise student achievement and close the achievement gap. It is truly a model."

On April 7 in Mount Vernon, Secretary Spellings challenged states to demonstrate that they meet the four core principles of NCLB. In exchange, USDOE would embark on a partnership with these states to provide flexibility while learning how to make the landmark federal law more effective.

"We know Florida is leading the nation with regard to education. We have seen our FCAT results improve year after year. We know more than two-thirds of 3rd graders are reading on grade level," Governor Bush said. "I'm thrilled that the U.S. Department of Education is recognizing that our state is a leader in measuring student achievement."

Florida is the first state to meet this challenge, providing Secretary Spellings with a data rich synopsis of Florida's policies and accomplishments produced by Governor Jeb Bush's A+ reforms.

"Florida's commitment to rising student achievement is being demonstrated through improvement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, high school graduation rates, and success in the Advancement Placement courses," Education Commissioner Winn said. "We have closed the achievement gap with large gains by minority students. I look forward to continuing to work with USDOE as our state exceeds NCLB policies."

The Florida Department of Education is still negotiating with USDOE about additional NCLB amendments and hopes to receive approval in the next few weeks. Those three proposed amendments involve the calculation of proficiency for students with disabilities, and identifying a learning gains growth model and better aligning NCLB's AYP with our state's A+ plan to maximize student achievement.

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