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PRESS RELEASE

December 11, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Commissioner Winn Announces Approved Major Areas of Interest
High school students explore interests, take charge of their future

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced the approved list of major areas of interest that will be part of high school coursework required for incoming ninth grade students in the fall of 2007. Choosing major areas of interest are part of new secondary school reform measures included in Governor Jeb Bush's A++ Plan for Education aimed at increasing the rigor and relevance of Florida high schools. Students will be able to choose from 440 approved major areas of interest and there will be flexibility so students can change their areas of emphasis if they wish. Major areas are available for students in high schools throughout Florida, including students with disabilities working toward a special diploma, students enrolled in career academies or magnet programs, and students in charter schools.

"Students will become more engaged in and appreciate the relevance of high school studies because they will be making choices that allow them to pursue their interests," said Commissioner Winn. "Our education services must keep up with the changing demands of students and not unduly limit their opportunities. Florida's high school students are prepared to explore their interests and realize their full potential."

New major areas of interest include Aerospace and Aviation, Math and Science, Education, Biotechnology, Entrepreneurship, and many in the arts and vocational areas. Curriculum specialists completed an internal review of district proposals, reviewing them for alignment, course availability for all high school students, rigor, relevance and most importantly — added value to Florida's high school diploma. The internal review was followed by an external review by teachers and stakeholders recommended to the Department of Education by district superintendents. Teachers from across the state helped to review and recommend these submissions.

"Our districts are showing leadership as they work to provide a wide variety of choices for their students, and students are looking forward to a high school experience that allows them the chance to become involved in career areas for which they have a passion," said Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke.

The new graduation requirements in the A++ Plan for Education begin with ninth graders entering high school in the 2007-2008 school year. Students will be required to earn 16 core academic credits and eight elective credits in order to graduate with a high school diploma. Core requirements consist of four credits of English and math; three credits of social studies and science; one credit of fine arts; and one credit in physical education and health. Out of the eight elective credits, students choose a major of area of interest that includes four credits in a common area, such as sequential courses in a career and technical program, fine and performing arts, or academic content area, as part of the student's education plan.

Students will be able to select their major area of interest through Florida's online student advising system, the Florida Academic Counseling and Tracking for Students or FACTS.org. In early 2007, eighth-grade students can go to FACTS.org, locate the high school they plan to attend and review the major areas of interest that will be available at that school. Students can complete an ePersonal Education Planner (ePEP), an interactive course planner for middle and high school students based on the major area of interest and on their educational goals. Students will be able to pre-enroll in a major area of interest, and once enrolled, a student may change his or her mind the following year with no penalty.

To view the list of major areas of interest and learn more about high school reform visit: http://www.fldoe.org/APlusPlus/. To learn more about the ePEP visit http://www.FACTS.org.