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Press Release

Monday, August 24, 2009

Governor's Press Office
(850) 488-5394

Governor Crist Celebrates Student Achievement as 2009-10 School Year Begins
~ Applauds Miami’s Holmes Elementary for improved student achievement and increased learning ~

MIAMI – Governor Charlie Crist today visited with students and staff at Holmes Elementary in Miami on their first day back to school and applauded their efforts on raising their 2008-2009 school grade from an “F” to a “C.” Last year Holmes experienced a remarkable turnaround through collaborative assistance offered as a part of the state’s new school improvement program, Differentiated Accountability, which offers targeted support for struggling schools.

“Education provides students with opportunities to develop their natural ability and strengthen skills needed to succeed in life, and each new school year offers a fresh start and new possibilities for achieving great things,” said Governor Crist. “As we begin this new school year, I look forward to celebrating the continued efforts of schools like Holmes Elementary to ensure that every student in the state has access to a quality education.”

Last week, Governor Crist hosted a Tallahassee Tuesday discussion with faculty and principals from five public schools that dramatically improved their school grades as a result of the Differentiated Accountability program. In only its first year of implementation, the majority of the program’s lowest performing schools showed significant increases in student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

“I’m excited to celebrate Holmes Elementary’s success, and am encouraged by the guidance and support this school has received from state and district staff,” said State Board of Education Chairman T. Willard Fair. “Through this joint assistance, the children and families of this community are witnessing great changes within their schools and I have no doubt they will continue to keep the momentum going for years to come.”

Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp also visited Chiles High School and Montford Middle School in Tallahassee.

In recent weeks, Governor Crist highlighted the need for increased awareness about back-to-school health safety. Along with State Surgeon General Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros and Education Commissioner Dr. Eric Smith, Governor Crist recently visited schools in Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and Miami to remind Floridians of ways to reduce transmission of H1N1 Swine Flu. Superintendents statewide also received information about addressing parents’ concerns regarding H1N1 Swine Flu. Floridians can learn more by visiting www.MyFluSafety.com or by calling the toll-free H1N1 Swine Flu information line at (877) 352-3581.

Last week, Governor Crist also recognized eight elementary schools and eight middle schools as the 2009 winners of the Governor’s Fitness Challenge, an eight-week school-based program to help boost children’s participation in physical fitness activities. Schools have the opportunity to compete for cash prizes to purchase sports or fitness equipment. To participate in the Governor’s Fitness Challenge or for more information, please visit the www.GovernorsFitnessChallenge.com.

About Florida’s Differentiated Accountability Program

The Florida Department of Education implemented the Differentiated Accountability school improvement plan during the 2007-08 school year as a pilot program and with the signing of House Bill 1908 expanded the program this year to include all schools in the state of Florida. The Differentiated Accountability plan enables the Florida Department of Education to work alongside school districts to identify struggling schools and develop custom instruction and other support services to ensure these schools and their students succeed. The program is founded on the creation of regional support teams working side-by-side with district and school personnel to identify areas of improvement, and create long term strategies to enable students to achieve in specific areas such as reading, mathematics and science. For more information about Florida’s Differentiated Accountability program visit, http://www.flbsi.org/DA/index.htm.

Governor Crist Celebrates Student Achievement as 2009-10 School Year Begins
Governor Crist Celebrates with Students