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Press Release

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Governor's Press Office
(850) 488-5394

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Florida Ranked Top Ten in the Nation in Education

~ 2009 Quality Counts report highlights the continued progress of the state’s education system ~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today announced that Florida’s education ranking jumped from 14th to 10th in the nation, and its overall grade improved from a C-plus to a B-minus, according to the 2009 Quality Counts: Portrait of a Population report released today. The report, issued annually by Education Week, tracks state policies and performance across key areas of education and assigns each state with an overall letter grade to signify their education standing in the nation. This improvement builds on last year’s drastic improvement that took Florida from 31st in 2006 to 14th in 2007.

“I congratulate Florida’s educators and students for their continued hard work in the pursuit of learning,” Governor Crist said. “The Quality Counts report released today clearly indicates that Florida schools are on the right track and that our students are being prepared to compete with students across the nation. I am committed to building upon the tremendous progress made in the last two years and under Governor Jeb Bush’s leadership.”

This year’s edition of the report grades states based on their performance and policies in six distinct education areas: Chance for Success; Transitions and Alignment; School Finance; K-12 Achievement; Standards, Assessments, and Accountability; and the Teaching Profession. Beginning this year, the report updates data in three of those areas (Chance for Success, Transitions and Alignment, and School Finance) and combines it with the previous report’s grades for the remaining categories. The overall grade assigned to each state is the average score for all six categories.

"This is a stunning achievement that further cements Florida’s status as a national leader in education,” said Commissioner of Education Dr. Eric J. Smith. “We are a state with high expectations for our youth and I’m proud to see that our efforts are creating a more successful future for our children.”

Florida's grade in the Transitions and Alignment category was a C-plus, which was above the national average of a C. This section indicates if states have performed actions such as adopting a definition of school readiness, requiring high school students to complete a college-preparatory curriculum to earn a diploma, and adopting definitions of college and workforce readiness.

The Chance for Success category looks at a state’s educational framework that spans a student’s life, from prekindergarten to the workforce. Florida tied the national average in this category with a C-plus and ranked ninth and 11th in Preschool and Kindergarten enrollment, respectively. The state also ranked high in the Steady Employment indicator with a ranking of 12th place.

Florida also received high marks for the equity of its education spending, exceeding the national average in three of the four indicators for this subsection. The state’s overall grade in this section was a C-minus, which was below the national average of a C-plus.

For the three previous-year categories that were factored into this year’s score, Florida was ranked fourth in the nation for the Teaching Profession; seventh in the nation for K-12 Achievement; and 12th in the nation for Standards, Assessment and Accountability.

In addition to the six categories, the report includes an in-depth examination of the condition of English-language learners (ELL) in schools across the nation. While this section did not receive a grade, it did single out states in its analysis. Florida was highlighted for leading the nation in the number of certified teachers in Federal Title III language instruction programs, and is one of only three states that requires all prospective teachers to show they are competent to teach ELL students.

For more information about the report, visit www.edweek.org.