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PRESS RELEASE

August 25, 2006

Kristy Campbell
(850) 488-5394
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Governor Bush Rewards Academic Performance With $157.6 Million to High-Performing Schools
Nearly 1,800 schools statewide receive school recognition funding

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and state education leaders today announced $157.6 million in funding to 1,799 Florida schools in recognition of academic achievement and improvement during the 2005-2006 school year — more than five times the number of schools and funding first rewarded in 1999. As part of the A+ School Recognition Program, schools that achieve an "A" based on the school grading criteria or improve at least one grade from the previous year, are awarded $100 per student. Since 1999, Florida has awarded more than $852.7 million in school recognition funding.

"Today, we reward the tireless efforts of students, parents, and educators who are committed to achieving academic success," said Governor Bush. "When the standards for success are set high, we begin to fully recognize what our students can accomplish."

Governor Bush marked the announcement by presenting checks to Webb Middle School in Tampa and Sadler Elementary in Orlando. Both schools received recognition funds for academic success. Education Commissioner John L. Winn, K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D., State Board of Education Vice Chair T. Willard Fair and State Board of Education Members Donna Callaway, Phoebe Raulerson and Kathleen Shanahan also visited schools throughout the state to honor their achievement.

Recognition funds are allocated based on a joint decision by a school-appointed committee of teachers and administrators. Funds can be used by a school to purchase one-time faculty incentives such as educational equipment, new technology, staff bonuses, or hiring temporary personnel to assist in maintaining and improving student performance.

Florida schools earned a record number of "A" and "B" grades in 2006 — more than any previous year. Since 1999, when the A+ Plan for Education was implemented, schools have improved from only 515 schools earning an "A" or "B" to 2,077 schools in 2006 — four times the number of high-performing schools seven years ago and 234 more than last year (up from 1,843). Three of every four Florida schools were considered high performing in 2006. At the same time, the number of failing schools is on the decline, down to a fourth of the number of failing schools in 1999. This year, there are 142 "D" and "F" schools compared to 677 schools seven years ago.

A++ Plan for Education

This year, the Florida Legislature approved Governor Bush's A++ Plan for Education to increase the rigor and relevance of Florida's middle and high schools. Middle school students will now be required to complete 12 core academic courses (three each in English, math, science and social studies), as well as one course in career and education planning, in order to be promoted to high school. High school students are now required to complete an additional math credit for graduation and choose a major area of interest. These measures will better prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce.

Education Funding

Under the leadership of Governor Bush, funding for education has increased 69 percent or $7.7 billion, providing millions of Florida's students with a high-quality education. Governor Bush implemented higher standards and developed an accountably system that has made a positive impact on improving student learning.

Assistance Plus

For Florida's struggling schools, the Assistance Plus program provides funding, resources and support to address areas of weakness. In addition, failing schools receive school improvement facilitators, reading coaches, technical assistance and assessments to monitor student progress. 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 turn failing schools around, such as restructuring the grade configuration of the school and implementing new research-based curriculum programs. The Assistance Plus program will help these schools achieve these goals.

To view a list of schools receiving recognition funding and amounts visit www.firn.edu/doe/evaluation/schrmain.htm.