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Press Release

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Statement By Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson Regarding the Year One Race to the Top Report

"Florida has worked very hard to implement the various components of the $700 million Race to the Top Grant. This first-year report, which reflects work done between August 2010 and June 30, 2011, gives a glimpse into our ground-breaking efforts to implement the bold education reforms called for in the grant. While there have certainly been challenges, there have been many successes.

"I'm especially proud of the incredible work done in partnership with our public classroom teachers, school districts and stakeholders throughout the state. Their involvement and valuable contributions helped ensure that our progress was inclusive and meaningful. The amount of work done in a short period of time is truly remarkable.

"The report noted three major areas of accomplishment in our first year.

  1. Building capacity for statewide reform, Florida
    • passed the Students Success Act in March 2011;
    • created eight Implementation Committees with diverse stakeholder backgrounds; and
    • developed a local systems exchange enabling districts to share information about improvement and provide support to one another.
  2. Improving teacher quality
    • Florida is already a state leader in implementing evaluation systems that provide teachers and school leaders with student data and performance feedback; we adopted a value-added model for measuring student growth.
  3. Improving access to STEM education, Florida
    • hired regional STEM coordinators and awarded grants to low-performing schools;
    • increased enrollment in accelerated STEM courses by 14 percent; and
    • increased enrollment in STEM career courses by seven percent.

"With regard to Year One challenges, the Sunshine State has some of the strongest procurement laws in the nation; laws that value competition and result in the highest quality vendors. Florida's approach to using its state-level funds was to procure services via contract. While this does take time, the end result is a legal document that binds contractors to deliverables and timelines and provides increased accountability. In the six months since June 30, the end of Year One, Florida has moved 22 additional projects into execution and awarded multiple contracts and grants as specified in our Scope of Work, representing a tremendous amount of work and commitment to our plans.

"We are proceeding into Year Two confident and committed to the ideals and principles necessary to make Race to the Top successful."