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PRESS RELEASE

August 16, 2006

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

Record Number of Florida High School Graduates Take the ACT

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced a record number of Florida's high school graduates took the American College Test (ACT). This year 66,299 of Florida's 2006 high school graduates took the ACT, up from 58,302 in 2005. Of all high school graduates, 44 percent took the ACT in Florida compared to 40 percent nationally. The ACT is one of two college entrance tests Florida students can choose to take. Last year, more than 93,500 of Florida's 2005 high school graduates took the SAT, representing 65 percent of the total number of high school graduates.

"Florida has been extremely successful at increasing the number of students taking college entrance exams," said Governor Bush. "We must continue to encourage all of our high school students to take these exams and prepare for the rigor of college and the workforce."

Minority students represent 47 percent of the 2006 test takers, compared to 30 percent nationally. During 2006, African Americans represented 21 percent of the Florida test takers, compared to only 13 percent nationwide. Hispanic students comprised 17 percent of Florida test takers, compared to only eight percent nationally.

"It is gratifying that more students are taking the ACT," said Commissioner Winn. "That is why high school reform is critical — to keep up with student aspirations by better preparing them to be successful in the future."

The ACT is comprised of four separate exams in English, reading, math and science and an optional writing test. Students receive a score for each subject as well as a composite score, which is the average of all the subject scores. In Florida, the average composite score is 20.3, down one tenth of a point from 20.4 compared to last year. Florida's Hispanic students continue to outscore Hispanic students nationally with an average composite score of 19.6 compared to 18.6 nationally. Florida's African American students scored slightly lower than their national counterparts earning a 16.8 compared to 17.1.

The ACT is a voluntary college entrance exam. ACT scores can be used for admission to a state university, the Talented 20 program, for meeting qualifications for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program or for placement into regular college courses. Students now have access to information about the ACT and other college entrance exams through Florida's first-ever, online student advising system, the Florida Academic Counseling and Tracking for Students or www.FACTS.org.

FACTS.org offers students returning to school this year an innovative tool to chart their course for success with the ePersonal Education Planner (ePEP). The ePEP will help students identify appropriate coursework to prepare for the ACT and other college entrance exams. As part of Governor Jeb Bush's A++ Plan for Education to increase the rigor and relevance of Florida's middle and high schools, students will now complete an ePEP to help them plan for the future. Middle school students will complete their ePEP after taking a one-year career and education planning course. Since ePEP was launched by FACTS.org last fall, more than 55,413 Florida students have created an ePEP.

To learn more about the ACT visit www.fldoe.org. To learn more about FACTS.org or to complete an ePEP, visit www.FACTS.org.