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PRESS RELEASE

November 15, 2005

Deena Reppen
(850) 488-5394 or
Jennifer Fennell
(850) 245-0413

Florida Signs on to National Formula for High School Graduation Rates
Florida joins compact to create a common methodology for calculating graduation rate

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Department of Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced that Florida signed a compact with 48 states to establish a common definition and methodology for calculating state high school graduation rates. The compact, established by the National Governors Association (NGA), will develop consistent measures of high school graduation and build comprehensive data systems to gather, examine and report this information.

"I applaud the NGA for championing a national movement toward data-driven high school graduation rate calculations based on individual student records," said Governor Bush. "We thank the NGA for recognizing Florida's graduation rate as exemplary and look forward to working with them further on this important initiative."

The compact followed the release of Graduation Counts: A Report of the NGA Task Force on State High School Graduation Data. The report outlined recommendations for states to develop a high-quality, comparable high school graduation measure, as well as complementary indicators of student progress, outcomes and data systems capable of collecting, analyzing and reporting the data. In this report, Florida was recognized as a national model for calculating graduation rates.

Florida stands alone nationally in its practice of compiling and following individual student records to calculate a true, four-year graduation rate. The state's graduation rate follows every student from the time they enter the ninth grade through to graduation. Florida methodology also accounts for students transferring in and out of the state, as well as for students earning a GED.

"Accuracy and consistency in calculating high school graduation rates is invaluable to our nation's education system," said Commissioner Winn. "The only way we'll be able to truly measure progress is to have a complete picture our progress based on quality data. This partnership with the NGA will encourage other states to work toward development of data systems that, like Florida's, can track every individual student to determine an accurate graduation rate. Coordination with the NGA is a step toward creating an accurate baseline of comparison that will enable all states to continue improving their high school graduation rates."

The Florida Department of Education, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education and the NGA, will host a two-day summit in February 2006 to provide other states with the knowledge and skills to create and utilize a comprehensive, statewide student data system. All states will be invited to attend the summit.

"We are pleased that Florida has joined 48 other states in signing on to the NGA graduation rate compact. Florida has created what many national experts consider to be one of the best state data systems in the country," said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center for Best Practices. "Critical to improving our high schools is the ability to collect accurate and detailed information on the performance of students and schools. The lessons learned from Florida's efforts are invaluable."

Graduation rates in Florida have consistently improved since 1998-99, increasing 11 points from 60 percent seven years ago to 71 percent in 2004-05. Since the 1998-99 academic year, graduation rates for all ethnic groups improved with the greatest increases made among minorities. The graduation rate of African-American students has increased more than eight points since 1998-99 and Hispanic students achieved even greater gains with an increase of more than 11 points.