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PRESS RELEASE

June 14, 2006

Russell Schweiss
850) 488-5394
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush and Commissioner Winn Announce 2006 School Grades
Florida has more "A" and "B" graded schools than ever before

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced a record number of Florida schools earned "A" and "B" grades in 2006. Since the implementation of the A+ Plan for Education in 1999, the number of schools earning an "A" or "B" jumped from 515 to 2,074 schools in 2006 — four times the number of high-performing schools seven years ago and 231 more than last year (up from 1,843). Three of every four Florida schools were considered high performing in 2006. Additionally, the number of failing schools is on the decline, down to a fourth of the number of failing schools in 1999.

"These results are further confirmation that reform, based on high standards and expectations, clear measurement and accountability and rewards and consequences for results, is working," said Governor Bush. "Thanks to the leadership of dedicated education professionals, Florida's students are achieving significant progress."

Florida continues to raise its standards for achievement to ensure students are prepared for the rigor of postsecondary education and the workforce. The A+ Plan for Education established the school grading system in 1999. Since then, standards have been raised three times and students continue to show improvement. In 2007, the bar will be raised again when scores from the Science Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), students in the lowest 25 percent on the Mathematics FCAT and Grade 11 and 12 FCAT retakes will be included in the school grade calculation.

"I am particularly pleased to see that 87 percent of our middle schools are high-performing," said Commissioner Winn. "This is because of the significant improvements made by students in reading and mathematics this year on the FCAT."

Of Florida's 2,789 graded public schools earning "A" through "F" grades:

  • 1,466 earned an "A" (53 percent)
  • 608 earned a "B" (22 percent)
  • 562 earned a "C" (20 percent)
  • 129 earned a "D" (5 percent)
  • 24 earned an "F" (1 percent)

Florida's elementary schools continue to make outstanding progress. Nearly sixty percent of all elementary schools earned an "A," and nearly eighty percent earned an "A" or "B." Florida's middle schools are also making great progress, with two-thirds of middle schools earning an "A," and 87 percent earning at "A" or "B". This is the most progress made since Florida began accountability and prioritized reading coaches in middle grades.

This year, 41 percent of Florida high schools earned an "A" or "B," and 38 percent earned a "C." Governor Jeb Bush recently signed House Bill 7087, his A++ Plan for Education, increasing the rigor and relevance of Florida's middle and high schools to better prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce.

Adequate Yearly Progress

Last year, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, Florida was granted a new Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) designation under the No Child Left Behind Act to recognize the outstanding achievement of "A" and "B" schools. The provision allows those that miss one or more of the 39 AYP criteria to be designated as making Provisional AYP. In 2006, 3,193 schools were included in Florida's AYP calculation with 906 schools making AYP, 1,240 schools making Provisional AYP and 1,047 not making AYP.

School Recognition Program

The Florida School Recognition Program rewards schools that have sustained high student performance or demonstrated substantial improvement in student performance. Schools that receive an "A" or improve at least one performance grade from the previous year are eligible to earn $100 per student. Recognition funds can be used by a school for non-recurring faculty incentives, educational equipment, new technology or hiring temporary personnel to assist in maintaining and improving student performance. Last year, 1,502 schools received $134 million in awards above and beyond a school's annual budget. The School Recognition Program has had a positive effect on schools maintaining and improving grades. In 2006, 1,033 schools maintained their "A", 36 new schools earned an "A", 397 schools improved to an "A" and 332 schools improved to a grade other than an "A".

For Florida's struggling schools, the Assistance Plus program provides funding, resources and support to address areas of weakness. Additionally, failing schools receive school improvement facilitators, reading coaches, technical assistance and assessments to monitor student progress. Twenty-five schools earning an "F" in 2005 improved their school grade one or more letter grades this year. Schools that have repeatedly failed will be required to take immediate action to show improvement. In May, the State Board of Education approved measures that require schools districts to take bold action to increase achievement, such as restructuring the grade configuration of the school and implementing new research-based curriculum programs. The Assistance Plus program will help schools achieve these goals.

Points-Only Designation

The Florida Legislature recently passed legislation enabling school districts to identify alternative schools that will be measured on a points-only basis instead of earning a traditional letter grade. These schools will be awarded a "P" grade, or "points-only." In the future, alternative schools will choose to earn a school improvement rating or a school grade. Of Florida's 2,843 public schools earning school grades, 54 schools were designated by school districts as alternative and earned a points-only calculation this year.

Providing a quality education for each and every student in Florida is Governor Bush's priority and the state's most important mission. Florida's investment in the A+ Plan for Education continues to achieve results. Today, more of Florida's students than ever are reading on their own, taking college entrance exams, graduating from high school and earning college degrees.

Parents will receive a school report card that provides a comprehensive look at their child's school, with results under state and federal standards, as well as information on spending at the school level. For more information, please visit www.myflorida.com or http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org.