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PRESS RELEASE

April 19, 2007

Jennifer Fennell
(850) 245-0413

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCES UPDATES TO ONLINE STUDENT PLANNER

~Incoming high school freshmen can now view Major Areas of Interest for their school~

TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Education today released the 2007 version of the electronic Personal Education Planner (ePEP), available through FACTS.org, Florida’s online student advising system. The new version includes a listing of the Major Areas of Interest (MAI) available at each Florida high school and the corresponding courses associated with each MAI. In addition, the ePEP now includes the new high school graduation requirements for students entering ninth grade in 2007-2008.

“With the new ePEP, rising ninth graders can plan courses with an emphasis on an area they would really like to explore,” said Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg. “In today’s competitive world, it’s more important than ever for students to have career and academic goals and to plan their courses and track their progress towards those goals.”

Current eighth-grade students can go to FACTS.org, locate the high school they plan to attend and review the MAIs that will be available at their school. By completing an ePEP, students can pre-enroll in a MAI of their choice. To officially enroll in a MAI, students must check with the high school they plan to attend or their school district. Once enrolled, a student may change his or her MAI the following year with no penalty.

The new ePEP with MAIs challenges students to become more knowledgeable about their options, to identify their interests and to connect the relevance of their high school studies to their lives. Students can explore careers and assess their interests via the “Career Planning” links at FACTS.org, then create an ePEP that reflects those interests.

“We have found the ePEP to be an invaluable tool,” said Tallahassee’s Lincoln High School Guidance Director Teri Gimbel. “Students can go online any time, explore career choices, see their grades and map out their courses. It really helps them define their priorities and get a realistic idea of the coursework that is required to reach their goals.”

Additionally, students can now select one of four graduation plans: (1) a college-preparatory plan, which meets state university admissions and Bright Futures Academic and Medallion Scholarship requirements; (2) a career-preparatory plan, which will prepare them for a career and meets the requirements for a Bright Futures Gold Seal Vocational Scholarship; (3) a plan that covers college and career preparation, which prepares students for both options; and (4) the standard high school diploma plan, which meets the high school graduation requirements.

Current sixth-grade students are also required to complete a career and education course prior to being promoted to the ninth grade. The mandated course, which includes completing an ePEP, ensures that students will explore their career options early and outline their high school courses according to their interests. The ePEP also allows middle school students to select high school courses while in middle school in order to complete a more rigorous college preparatory plan and have greater flexibility in high school.

“What I particularly like about the ePEP is that it is hard for a student to not take the right courses for the plan they have selected. I don’t know how many times we have heard from parents that thought their child was on the right path and then found out too late that they had missed getting a scholarship by one course or that they hadn’t taken a college prep plan so they weren’t eligible to get into a university,” said FACTS.org Executive Director Connie Graunke. “This system almost makes it impossible to take the wrong course. If students stick with the courses for the plan they selected, they’ll be on target.”

Since its launch in October 2005, more than 140,000 students have created a high school course plan using ePEP. By 2009, it is expected that all entering freshmen will have an ePEP.

The ePEP empowers students to be proactive in planning courses for each year of high school, based on the student's goals after graduation, such as admission to a four-year college, going to a two-year degree program at a community college, attending a career technical center, registering for military service or entering the workforce. Guidance counselors view students' online planners and provide recommendations based on their plans.

Provided free to the public by the Florida Department of Education, these services help students better prepare for postsecondary education and the workforce in ways that are likely to increase their success and future earnings. For information about the 2007 ePEP and MAIs, visit www.FACTS.org.