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PRESS RELEASE

July 15, 2005

Melanie Mowry Etters
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner John L. Winn Attends National Forum on Education Policy
Commissioner accepts coveted Frank Newman Award for State Innovation on behalf of Governor Bush

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Education Commissioner John L. Winn today will finish his participation in a two-day long national education conference that recognized Governor Jeb Bush's revolutionary vision for reforming education in the state. The National Forum on Education Policy in Denver, Colorado, is hosted each year by the Education Commission of the States (ECS) and is an opportunity for education leaders throughout the country to share best practices and debate national education issues. This year the ECS awarded Governor Bush with the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation. The award recognizes sustained commitment to education reform and improvement.

"Florida's students have made tremendous learning gains in the past seven years. It is because of their hard work and the hard work of countless teachers, administrators and parents that Florida has made the gains it has," Governor Bush said. "Our system of high standards and accountability has enabled students to dream the biggest possible dreams and to achieve those dreams. While this award recognizes the state's efforts, the real winners are Florida's students."

In receiving the award, ECS specifically recognized Florida for its sustained increases in student achievement, innovative parental school choice options as well as our voluntary pre-kindergarten program. Despite the failure of the National Education Association and critics to recognize tremendous gains in student achievement, the ECS noted Florida's "strong, sustained commitment to education reform and improvement and . . . impressive progress on several fronts."

"I am proud to receive this award on behalf of Governor Bush and the State of Florida," said Commissioner Winn. "As expectations for school performance increase, Florida schools and students continue to rise to the occasion. I welcome the opportunity to tell others from across the nation about the great things happening in Florida."

Since implementing Governor Bush's A+ Plan for Education in 1999, student achievement in Florida has risen dramatically. The percentage of fourth graders reading at or above grade level has increased from 51 percent in 1999 to 71 percent in 2005. Rising student achievement is led by minority students, with African American fourth grade reading scores increasing from 23 percent reading at or above grade level in 1999 to 56 percent in 2005. Florida's Hispanic fourth graders made similar increases with 38 percent reading at or above grade level in 1999 to 66 percent in 2005.

Florida also continues to lead the nation with the number of students taking pre-college coursework and exams, with two thirds of Florida's tenth graders taking the PSAT and an additional nine percent taking the PLAN. Florida currently provides funding for all public schools in the state the opportunity to administer the PSAT or PLAN. Florida's unique partnership with the College Board gives minority students and students who are underrepresented in higher education an opportunity to prepare for a postsecondary career.

For more information on Florida's rising student achievement please visit www.myflorida.com or www.fldoe.org.