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PRESS RELEASE

August 29, 2006

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

Governor Bush Announces Record Number of Florida Students Taking the SAT and AP Exams

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced record numbers of Florida students are taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams. More than 94,601 of Florida's 2006 high school graduates took the SAT, representing 63 percent of the total number of high school graduates. This is the largest number of Florida students to ever take the SAT. Additionally, Florida saw the greatest increase in public school AP exam-takers compared to all other states from 2005 to 2006.

"Florida's high school students know that taking rigorous coursework and college entrance exams helps prepare them for the challenges of college and the workforce," said Governor Bush. "Through our partnership with the College Board and the new reforms in the A++ Plan for Education, we are preparing students for success during and following high school."

The most noteworthy increase in the number of Florida students taking the SAT is among minority students. Overall, minority student participation has increased from 39 percent in 1999 to 44 percent in 2006. Nationwide, the percentage of minority test-takers has increased, but at a slower rate than in Florida. In Florida, African-American students comprise 14 percent of the test takers, compared to 11 percent nationwide. Hispanic students in Florida comprise 21 percent of the test-takers, compared to 11 percent nationwide.

"It is gratifying that more students are taking the SAT, as well as other college entrance exams and AP courses," 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."

While Florida student participation in the SAT is climbing, the average score is down three points from 2005. An increase in the number of test takers usually results in lower scores. Scores were down two points on the reading portion and one point on the math portion. Nationally, there was a drop in the scores from last year — more so than in Florida. This year, scores were down five points on the reading portion and two points on the math portion.

On AP exams, Florida's students continue to excel in participation and performance. Since 1999, the number of AP exam-takers in Florida's public schools has increased 162 percent. The Sunshine State has the second greatest increase in public school AP exam-takers, compared to all other states from 2005-06 and the fourth largest increase among all states in the number of students passing (receiving grades of 3-5) AP exams. The number of African-American students participating has increased 239 percent and the number of Hispanic students participating has increased 230 percent since 1999. Florida leads the nation with the largest number of African-American students taking AP exams and passing them.

"Florida public school students continue to excel in AP participation and success, especially among historically underserved groups," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "There is a clear commitment by Governor Bush, Commissioner Winn, and the Florida Legislature to ensure that all Florida students are given the best opportunities so that they are prepared to go to and succeed in college."

Additionally, the number of Florida public school tenth graders taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which is offered free-of-charge to all Florida tenth graders, increased 4.5 percent from 2004 to 2005. Again, the most significant increase was among Hispanic students, with the number of Hispanic tenth-grade test-takers increasing by 19 percent. For the time period 1999-2005, the number of Hispanic PSAT test takers increased by 636 percent.

The SAT is a voluntary college entrance exam. SAT scores can be used for admission to a state university, meeting qualifications for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program or placement into regular college courses. Students now have access to information about the SAT and other college entrance exams through Florida's first-ever online student advising system, the Florida Academic Counseling and Tracking for Students or 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 SAT and other college entrance exams. As part of Governor Bush's A++ Plan for Education to increase the rigor and relevance of Florida's middle and high schools, students will now complete their 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.

For more details on Florida's performance on SAT, PSAT/NMSQT and AP exams, please visit www.fldoe.org. To learn more about Florida's unique partnership with the College Board, log on to www.collegeboard.com/floridapartnership.