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April 15, 2008

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Florida Districts and Schools Recognized for Exceptional Performance
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TALLAHASSEE - Twelve Florida Reading First school districts and 13 Blue Ribbon Schools (BRS) were honored today by the State Board of Education (SBE) and Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith at a special awards breakfast in Tallahassee. The Reading First school districts were acknowledged for their effective use of Reading First grant funds to improve literacy skills within their schools. The Blue Ribbon Schools were recognized for being named to the federal BRS program based on the high academic performance of their students.

“I applaud these districts and schools for their outstanding efforts to ensure that all Florida students receive a first-rate education,” said State Board of Education Chairman T. Willard Fair. “These are extraordinary accomplishments that serve as proof of the hard work taking place in our classrooms everyday.”

The 12 Reading First school districts in attendance represented the top 25 percent of all Reading First districts in Florida. They were identified because they increased the percentage of students reading at or above grade level and decreased in the percentage of students with serious reading difficulties within the district at an exceptional rate. Reading First grants assist Florida school districts and schools with implementation of proven methods of scientifically-based reading instruction in classrooms in order to prevent reading difficulties in grades K-3.

The 13 Blue Ribbon Schools honored are part of the U.S. Department of Education sponsored BRS program. Last year, the program recognized 287 elementary, middle and high schools across the nation that were either academically superior or demonstrated dramatic gains in overall student achievement in both reading and mathematics. Established in 1982, the BRS program has since been redesigned to reflect the goals of higher standards and accountability of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

“The districts and schools here today represent the hard-working teachers, principals and parents across the state who strive everyday to improve the lives of our children,” said Commissioner Smith. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to congratulate them personally for these remarkable successes.”

For a list of Florida’s top performing Reading First districts, visit For a list of Florida’s Blue Ribbon Schools, visit