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Press Release

Friday, January 4, 2013

DOE Press Office

2012: A Successful Year for Florida Students and Educators

- Florida continues to pave the way in education with stellar performance by students, teachers, and institutions statewide -

Tallahassee, Fla., January 4, 2013 - A national leader in education reform, Florida is making progress when it comes to educating students. A number of test results reported in 2012 show students in every demographic segment are making strides toward becoming better readers, more skilled at math, and better at science. In fact, students in Florida outperformed many students, both nationally and globally, in several subject areas in 2012.

The schools providing this learning are also excelling. Four of the top 10 magnet schools in the nation are located right here in the Sunshine State. More schools across the state are encouraging students to take Advanced Placement exams to give high school students an advantage when they graduate.

State colleges are also making their mark when it comes to garnering attention for boosting student success. Right now, multiple state colleges are vying for a coveted national recognition prize of $1 million for providing a quality education to children to prepare them to enter the workforce.

At the heart of these accomplishments are educators who are working diligently each day to ensure our children can one day graduate and find a career. Florida teachers were recognized in 2012 by being awarded the highest grade in the nation for educator quality-a testament to their continued efforts to positively influence students' lives.

"We know we have some of the best teachers in the nation working with students across our state," said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. "They are the reason we continue to see higher test scores, higher graduation rates, and the reason Florida continues to be recognized nationally and globally. We appreciate their dedication to shaping the lives of those who will one day run our nation."

Top 10 Highlights from 2012

Students Are Internationally Competitive: Florida students outperformed many of their national and global counterparts on both the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The reports compared the performance of U.S. fourth-grade students in reading, mathematics, and science, and eighth-grade students in mathematics and science to their peers internationally.

Students Excel in Vocabulary: In the first report of its kind, fourth and eighth graders excelled on the vocabulary portion of The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The report showed fourth graders in Florida outpaced the nation. This included students with disabilities and students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Florida's eighth-grade Hispanic students outperformed students in their demographic nationally, as did students with disabilities and students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.

Common Core Takes Off: Florida College System teacher educator programs are the first in the nation to voluntarily commit to a system-wide implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The new standards will be embedded in the teacher preparation program curriculum throughout the college system so new teachers who enter the classroom will be ready for the more rigorous standards. The standards are benchmarked to international standards and establish clear, consistent goals for learning in order to prepare students for college and careers. In addition to training new teachers, the Florida College System is uniquely positioned to offer essential Common Core training to current teachers.

Test Scores Improve: Florida ranked second in the nation for education test-score gains. The Education Next report examined international and U.S. state trends in student achievement growth using mathematics, reading, and science data from 1992 to 2011. Florida is second only to Maryland in test-score improvement between 1992 and 2011.

Magnet Schools Rank in Top 10: Four Florida high schools were recognized as being in the top 10 magnet schools in the country. The 2012 U.S. News and World Report Best High Schools report named the schools in recognition of a school's ability to successfully educate its student body across a range of performance indicators and the degree to which they prepare students for college-level work.

Quality Educators Make the Grade: The National Council on Teacher Quality awarded Florida the highest grade in the nation for educator quality. The state also received high marks for making progress in policies and practices that govern the teaching profession.

State Colleges Stand Out: Florida is one of only two states in the nation to have multiple finalists in the top ten schools vying for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Broward College and Santa Fe College were named finalists for the highly esteemed prize that recognizes outstanding outcomes in learning, completion rates for degree and certificate programs, minority and low-income student success, and employment after college. The winner and finalists with distinction will be named in March 2013.

Minority Graduation Rates Grow: Florida's Hispanic and African-American students outpaced the national graduation rate average. Florida ranks third in the nation for the largest increase in graduation rate during the past decade.

Reading Initiative Is National Model: Through Just Read, Florida!, the state has implemented one of the most comprehensive literacy initiatives in the nation with efforts to ensure teachers deliver data-driven reading instruction, monitor student progress, and develop intervention strategies for students who are behind. Numerous states across the country are considering legislation that would mirror Florida's policies for third-grade promotion and assistance to struggling readers. Florida's groundbreaking legislation was introduced more than a decade ago and data show large reading achievement gains among students who received literacy support.

Graduates Score Better on College Entrance Exams: Florida's graduating seniors increased their scores in every SAT subject area in 2011-12. Florida's Hispanic students outperformed other Hispanics nationwide on each SAT subsection. Florida also ranked third in the nation for the total number of Advanced Placement grades of 3 or higher.