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August 31, 2006

Kristy Campbell
(850) 488-5394

Governor Bush Applauds College Board's New "EXCELerator" Program

JACKSONVILLE — Governor Jeb Bush today applauded the College Board's national education reform efforts to ensure more students graduate from high school ready for college and the workforce. The College Board announced today that Duval County was selected as one of the first school districts in the nation to participate in the innovative "EXCELerator" Schools program. Through a $16 million investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the College Board will complement its promising school development efforts in New York with the new program in 11 high schools in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Duval County.

"The 'EXCELerator' program will serve as a tremendous asset to prepare high school students for the challenges of college and the workforce. I applaud the College Board and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their commitment to important education reforms," said Governor Bush. "This pilot program builds on the cutting-edge reforms in Florida's A++ Plan for Education and will help make more rigorous curriculums a reality for future generations of Florida students."

Four Duval County schools have been selected to participate, including Samuel Wolfson, Terry Parker, Sandalwood and Robert E. Lee High Schools. These schools are granted access to a wide range of College Board tools as well as project management strategies designed to raise standards and enrich students' academic experiences.

"We are extremely excited about the launch of the 'EXCELerator' program," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "We anticipate reaching thousands of students in urban districts with a program that is designed to prepare them for advanced courses and fortify them with the skills they need to succeed in college."

The "EXCELerator" Schools program provides:

  • Rigorous academic programs for all students.
  • Professional development for superintendents, principals, teachers and counselors.
  • Data to inform and drive teaching, learning and assessment.
  • College planning and preparation programs.
  • Developmental supports for students to create personalized learning opportunities.

"The 'EXCELerator' Schools project is huge for us," said Joseph Wise, Duval County Public Schools Superintendent. "The support and resources this grant provides complement our mission of building and enhancing lifelong learning opportunities for Duval County students. It is our responsibility to provide students with meaningful opportunities that expose them to and prepare them for postsecondary education options."

Governor Jeb Bush recently signed into law Florida's 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. Additionally, Governor Bush and Education Commissioner John L. Winn this week announced record numbers of Florida students are taking the 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. Florida also saw the greatest increase in public school AP exam-takers compared to all other states from 2005 to 2006.

Since 1999, Governor Bush's A+ Plan for Education has played a dramatic role in improving student achievement. Today, more students than ever are reading on their own, participating in Advanced Placement (AP) classes, taking college entrance exams, graduating from high school and pursuing higher education.

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