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Press Release

Thursday, June 25, 2009

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Successful School Improvement Program Expands to Cover All Public Schools
~ Schools unable to meet the academic needs of all students set to receive increased district and state assistance ~

TALLAHASSEE – Bolstered by strong performance increases in struggling schools this year, Florida’s Differentiated Accountability program has been expanded to account for every public school student in the state. Authorized by Governor Charlie Crist’s recent signing of House Bill 991, the successful pilot program now incorporates all public schools that, for two years in a row, fail to meet 100 percent of federal proficiency standards. These schools will receive escalating district and state support based on their specific needs.

“The expansion of the Differentiated Accountability program ensures that all children have access to the best education possible,” said Governor Charlie Crist. “After a successful first year we are already seeing tremendous results and I’m excited that every school can now benefit from this increased level of assistance.”

Under the Differentiated Accountability program, schools are placed into six categories based on their state-assigned letter grade, percentage of federal proficiency requirements met, and the number of years they have failed to meet those requirements. Support provided to these schools varies, depending on the amount of improvement needed. Some examples of support services include assistance in school-wide planning, leadership development, teacher training, curriculum development, and data analysis.

With the expansion of the Differentiated Accountability program this year, 2,445 schools will be eligible for monitoring or support including 66 schools that will be receiving the most intensive level of assistance. Last year, 1,082 schools were part of the pilot project with 39 schools receiving the most intensive assistance. In only its first year of implementation, the majority of Differentiated Accountability’s lowest performing schools (schools listed in the “Intervene” category or earning an “F” grade in 2008) showed significant increases in student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

  • Of elementary Intervene and “F” schools, 72 percent showed growth on the reading portion and 83 percent on the mathematics portion.
  • Of Intervene and “F” schools in grades 6-8, 71 percent showed growth on the reading portion and 86 percent on the mathematics portion.
  • Of Intervene and “F” schools in the high school grades, 56 percent showed improvement on the reading portion and 69 percent on the mathematics portion.
  • Seventy-nine (79) percent of Florida’s lowest performing schools also improved their School Grades from the previous year.

Additionally, six low performing schools jumped from an “F” to an “A” grade this year, reinforcing the benefits of a collaborative approach to school improvement. Each of these six schools was also able to meet 100 percent of the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements established by the No Child Left Behind Act, despite the standards for achieving AYP being raised considerably.

A key factor in the program’s success is the state-led regional improvement teams who work directly with the most struggling schools. These teams are headed by Regional Executive Directors with proven experience in turning around low performing schools. Each director is supported by Instructional Specialists for reading, math, science, and Response to Intervention, who provide professional development to schools and districts to improve instruction and increase student engagement and achievement. The regional teams work in partnership with districts, schools, and communities to improve the overall effectiveness of administrators and teachers and to monitor the improvement process.

“The positive results we are seeing from the Differentiated Accountability program are proof that every school is capable of great things when given the proper support,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “Our regional teams, in conjunction with school and district leadership, have done a tremendous job in making sure every student has access to a quality education.”

As the Differentiated Accountability program expands to encompass all public schools this year, the role of the Department’s five turnaround experts and their teams will be particularly significant. The Department’s five regional directors are:

  • Region one – Nikolai Vitti
  • Region two – Leila Mousa
  • Region three – Joseph Burke
  • Region four – Gail Daves
  • Region five – Maria Izquierdo

For a full listing of districts and regions, visit http://www.fldoe.org/news/2009/2009_06_25/0910DAPolicyRegions.pdf (PDF, 296KB).

For an updated listing of how each school is categorized in the Differentiated Accountability program, visit http://www.fldoe.org/news/2009/2009_06_25/DA09.xls (Excel, 900KB). For more information about Differentiated Accountability, visit http://flbsi.org/DA/index.htm.