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February 2, 2006

Jennifer Fennell or
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush and U.S. Education Secretary Spellings Participate in National Education Data Summit
More than 30 states gather in Florida to discuss importance of student information systems

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Governor Jeb Bush, U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, Florida State Board of Education Chairman Phil Handy and Florida Education Commissioner John L. Winn today joined state and national experts at the By the Numbers: A National Education Data Summit in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Organized by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, U.S. Department of Education and Florida Department of Education, the purpose of the two-day summit is to discuss the importance of building effective, comprehensive K-12 student data systems so policymakers can use data to develop polices and improve educational outcomes.

"Florida has distinguished itself as a national leader for following and measuring individual student academic achievement," said Governor Bush. "By gathering with state and national leaders to share best practices for data-driven decision making, we improve the way educational policy is developed."

Governor Bush introduced Secretary Spellings during the "What Matters Most to the Nation?" session where she highlighted the significance of creating unified student data systems. The meeting provided examples of promising practices from states that are developing and successfully using comprehensive data systems. Thirty-one state teams attended the summit to share recent progress. Many states shared the specifics of their data systems and how the data captured affects long-term educational policy. Student data is used to develop curricula, instruction, college-level readiness standards, assessment and educator training.

"To develop policies that will most impact student learning, we must first be able to accurately measure the current level of academic success," said Commissioner Winn. "This summit provides states the opportunity to come together and learn from one another. By making data-driven decisions, we not only craft sound educational policies, we empower educators, parents and students to take control of academic achievement."

Florida is considered a national leader in the development of a comprehensive education data system with the ability to follow every student. Commissioner Winn tomorrow will present "Research: The Key to Strategic Reform" an overview of the state's system. In addition, the Department of Education will present "A Comprehensive K-20 Data System" describing the architecture of Florida's data system and its impact on district and schools. Panelists will speak about Florida's education data warehouse, education and workforce connections, the Sunshine Connections online teacher tool and Governor Bush's A+ Plan for Education.

Through its data system, Florida has been able to document record learning gains in students.

Since 1999, the percentage of fourth grade students reading on grade level or higher has increased from 51 percent to 71 percent. The percentage of fourth grade Hispanic students reading on grade level or higher has increased from 38 percent to 66 percent, while the percentage of fourth grade African-American students reading on grade level or higher has grown from 23 percent to 56 percent.

This week's data summit was made possible through the support of the U.S. Department of Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Alliance for Excellent Education and Lumina Foundation for Education. The summit continues the national dialogue being promoted by the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), which supports and encourages state policymakers to improve the collection, availability and use of high-quality education data. The campaign provides tools and resources that will assist states in their development of quality longitudinal data systems, while also providing a national forum for reducing duplication of effort and promoting greater coordination and consensus with the goal of improving student achievement.