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November 29, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Statement by Education Commissioner John L. Winn Regarding Availability of End-of-Course Exams for STAR Implementation

"The Department of Education continues to act as a partner to school districts by working closely with district staff as they develop individualized plans to implement STAR (Special Teachers Are Rewarded). Many districts have expressed concern over developing assessments that would gauge the performance of teachers of non-FCAT subjects. End-of-course exams are regarded as an effective assessment tool; however, few districts have indicated that they currently have their own end-of-course exams.

In an effort to have as many outstanding Florida teachers as possible benefit from STAR, Department staff has been working to identify end-of-course tests that would be available for all districts to use as pre-and post tests should they wish to incorporate this method of measurement.

Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department will be establishing a repository, or 'clearinghouse,' of end-of-course exams, which will be made available at no charge to all interested public school districts. Use of these exams is optional, and at the discretion of each school district.

Both the Hillsborough County Public School district and the Florida Virtual School have expressed a willingness to share with other school districts their existing end-of-course exams. We welcome the addition of any other well-developed district end-of-course exams that will further expand the clearinghouse and increase its value to districts across the state. The Department of Education has entered into discussions with Hillsborough County Public Schools about serving as the manager of the clearinghouse, but they would partner with all districts wishing to participate. By early 2007, we anticipate we will have a finalized agreement and a clearinghouse in place.

I am encouraged with the progress districts have made on this process. Florida will be in an excellent position to recruit and retain highly effective teachers for our students. I will be meeting with school board members and superintendents this week to discuss STAR and other ways the state can partner with school districts to work on common challenges in education."

In support of the end-of-course exam clearinghouse

"Through the leadership and cooperative spirit of Commissioner Winn, Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, and Julie Young of the Florida Virtual School, school districts across Florida will have access to end of course tests needed to implement STAR. Not only will this agreement save countless hours of work and dollars but, more importantly, it will well serve outstanding teachers in Florida's public schools," said Florida Association of District School Superintendents Chief Executive Officer Bill Montford.

"I'm proud that Hillsborough County is taking a lead role in this new partnership with the Florida Department of Education. The prospect of using meaningful assessments to help boost teacher pay is a laudable goal, and the state clearinghouse for end-of-course exams will help us achieve that goal. Educators and students across the state will benefit for years to come," said Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

"At the Florida Virtual School, we believe it takes the combined effort of students, parents, schools, districts and community members to provide an effective learning environment for all students. We exist to serve the students of the state of Florida and are pleased to extend that commitment by contributing to the Department of Education's clearinghouse of end-of-course exams. Through this developing collaboration, local school districts can tap into existing resources and further reward their most outstanding teachers," said Florida Virtual School President & CEO Julie E. Young.