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PRESS RELEASE

December 22, 2006

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

Florida Ships Documentation to Verify Attempt to Break a World Record
186,054 middle school students confirmed as participants

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush today announced that Florida has officially submitted its final documentation to Guinness World Records™ in its attempt to break the record for the "Most People Reading Aloud Simultaneously in Multiple Locations." The event, Breaking a World Record: Reading Aloud!, overseen by the Just Read, Florida! office, aimed to bolster reading among middle school students. The record attempt aired via a live public broadcast and Webcast from Disney-MGM Studios when at 11:25 a.m. on September 28, Governor Bush led students statewide in reading an excerpt from the book "Peter and the Starcatchers" written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. More than 300,000 middle school students from across the state registered to participate.

"Our goal in Florida is to ensure that all students are able to read at or above grade level by the year 2012," said Governor Bush. "Our middle school students are showing improvement in reading with 57 percent reading successfully last year. No mater what the results are from Guinness, Florida's middle school students are already succeeding in one of life's most valuable skills — reading."

According to Guinness World Records™, the current record is 155,528 students from 737 schools throughout the United Kingdom who read William Wordsworth's poem "Daffodils," on March 19, 2004. Since the record attempt in September, the Just Read, Florida! office has worked with school districts statewide to ensure all the proper documentation and certification were in place to validate the event under the rigorous requirements of Guinness World Records™. Within the coming months, the state will receive confirmation as to whether or not the attempt was successful.

"Over the past three years, Florida's students have received national attention for reading improvement," said Commissioner Winn. "Today marks our entry into the international stage of reading performance."

Florida's middle school students have made significant improvements in reading. This year, 223,000 more students are reading on grade level or above grade level compared to 2001, and improvements in middle school reading tripled that of any previous single year gain. Additionally, there has been a renewed focus on reading at the middle school level and great participation in the Department of Education's Shoot for the Stars: A Record-Breaking Year for Middle Schools initiative.

To view the Webcast of the event visit www.JustReadFlorida.com.