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Press Release

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

State Board of Education Receives Critical Updates on Key Education Issues

~ Board reviews 2011-12 budget request; discusses Florida’s educational progress, Race to the Top and the FCAT ~

TALLAHASSEE – Leading off a packed meeting agenda, Florida’s Commissioner of Education Dr. Eric J. Smith presented several important topics to the State Board of Education today, including the Department of Education’s 2011-12 Legislative Budget Request. Commissioner Smith also provided Board members with a long-term view of the significant academic progress Florida’s students have made, an update on Florida’s implementation of the federal Race to the Top grant, and a brief overview of the efforts being made to ensure future FCAT test administrations are free of the delays experienced last school year.

Commissioner Smith began his comments with an update on the implementation of Florida’s Race to the Top grant. Within his update he described the ongoing technical support and guidance that the Department has been providing to school districts as well as the timeframes involved in the submission and approval of their grant proposals. He also reaffirmed the state’s call for volunteers to serve on several Race to the Top implementation committees responsible for organizing and executing the state’s work as outlined in the grant application.

“The great thing about Race to the Top is how it turns the process of education reform completely around by asking local communities to develop their own plans, tailored to their own needs,” said Commissioner Smith. “This locally-driven reform effort, combined with the input from our implementation committees on statewide initiatives, will result in incredible opportunities for our students and a bold new direction for education in our state.”

Following his Race to the Top update, Commissioner Smith delivered a short presentation to Board members detailing the significant successes that Florida’s students have achieved in the last decade. The presentation touched upon rising National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, shrinking achievement gaps between minority and White students, improvements in graduation rates, and the tremendous progress Florida has made in increasing student participation and achievement in rigorous coursework and career certification.

“Florida has been involved in some very intense, very demanding work when it comes to improving our education system and sometimes its necessary to take a breath and realize just how far we have come,” added Commissioner Smith. “We certainly are not yet where we need to be but the results tell us that our efforts to this point, including our struggles, are paying off and that the quality of education in Florida is improving.”

The last major area covered was the FCAT and the efforts that are ongoing to guarantee Florida’s successful assessment and accountability system continues to produce reliable, valid data. Commissioner Smith described the leadership group he established consisting of various superintendents throughout the state who will meet to discuss issues related to the FCAT such as the construction of the test, increased stability of scores and their recommendations on how the system could be strengthened. Douglas Kubach, President and CEO of Pearson Assessments & Testing, was also on hand to walk Board members through the steps being taken to ensure the delays in FCAT results that occurred last year are not repeated in the future.

“Florida’s school accountability efforts have helped to spur dramatic improvements in the achievement of our students and our transition to FCAT 2.0 provides a perfect opportunity to look at the system as a whole and improve it in meaningful ways,” said Commissioner Smith. “No system is perfect but through the feedback of the leadership group we will be able to make this an even better program moving forward.”