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November 3, 2005

Jennifer Fennell
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Launches High School Reform Task Force

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn, in partnership with members of the Florida Legislature, Tuesday launched the Department of Education's High School Reform Task Force. Slightly postponed due to Hurricane Wilma, the Task Force met via conference call to discuss goals for reform. The Commissioner appointed 26 education stakeholders to the Department of Education's High School Reform Task Force. This task force serves as a component of the Department's larger efforts in secondary reform, which began with middle grades reform in 2004.

"We have realized such success in the elementary grades and need to ensure that this success can progress through middle and high school," said Commissioner Winn. "This task force will continue the efforts to prepare students for postsecondary success, whether that is a college education or beginning their career, by building the road map for Florida's high schools."

The need for additional reform efforts is evident in the decline in proficiency in reading and mathematics after students leave the elementary grades. Over a seven year period, the retention of ninth grade students has increased from 34,481 students in 1998 (17.5%) to 52,398 in 2004 (22.48%). A large number of students continue to need remediation at the postsecondary level.

"By providing educational instruction in all content areas that is research-based, relevant and rigorous, students will further excel in the classroom and in their postsecondary endeavors," added Commissioner Winn.

On Tuesday's call, task force members provided input on what they each feel is the highest priority in high school reform today. The priorities mentioned included increased rigor in high school courses, greater focus on career and vocational training and increased relevance of the courses taken in high school to skills needed for higher education and for the workforce.

Members of the task force include Commissioner Winn, Senator Evelyn Lynn, as well as teachers, principals, parents, superintendents and representatives from education associations and businesses. Task force members will review the latest research, academic achievement data, accountability standards, high school curriculum, instructional delivery models, graduation requirements and teacher preparation in order to provide recommendations to meet the changing educational needs for tomorrow's world. Student access to postsecondary opportunities depends upon the outcomes of their experience in kindergarten through grade 12.

Please see attached information for the High School Task Force's schedule and a list of its members.

High School Task force meeting schedule:

Meeting 1: November 18, 2005
9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Douglas Anderson School of the Arts
Jacksonville, Florida

Meeting 2: November 28, 2005
(Location: TBD, potentially Tampa)
Meeting 3: December 12, 2005
Orlando, Florida

Meeting 4: January 18, 2005
(Location: TBD, potentially Broward County)
Final Locations for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th meetings are still being determined.

High School Task force members:

  • John Winn, Commissioner of Education
  • Evelyn Lynn, State Senator, Florida Senate, Volusia, Putnam, Clay, Marion Counties
  • Rudy Crew, Superintendent, Honorary Member, Miami-Dade County
  • Bill Vogel, Superintendent, Seminole County
  • Lou Miller, Superintendent, Madison County
  • Peg Smith, Superintendent, Volusia County, FADSS Task Force Chairperson
  • Nancy Bostock, School Board Chairperson, Pinellas County
  • Stephanie Arma Kraft, School Board Member, District 4, Broward County
  • James Lawsen, Area Superintendent for the Central Learning Community, Orange County
  • Joan Minnis, Principal, Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School, Pinellas County
  • Cherry Fitch, Principal, Gulf Breeze High School, Santa Rosa County
  • Nathan Collins, Principal, Palm Beach Lakes High School, Palm Beach County
  • Rosann P. Sidener, Ed.D., Principal, Booker T. Washington High School, Miami Dade County
  • Judith Marty, Principal, Mater Academy Charter High, Miami Dade County
  • Pamela Denise Ashley, Director, Steps to the Future Christian Academy, Collier County
  • Fred Williams, Teacher, William T. McFatter Technical School, Broward County
  • Kathy Corder, TOY Regional Finalist, Chiles High School, Leon County
  • Daniel E. Snyder, TOY Regional Finalist, Fernandina Beach High School Teacher, Nassau County
  • David Mosrie, Florida Association of School Superintendents
  • Wayne Blanton, Florida School Boards Association
  • Jim Warford, Florida Association of School Administrators
  • Bob Morris, Chairman, Ramar Group Companies, Council of 100 Recommendation
  • Sherri Hampton, Teacher, Sumter County, FEA Recommendation
  • Melissa Harden, Parent Involvement Coordinator, PTA Recommendation
  • Brenda Speed, Parent of a Leon High School Student, Leon County
  • Edwin Massey, President, Indian River Community College
  • James Robert Richburg, President, Okaloosa-Walton College