May 18, 2021

Celebrating 50 Years

Florida's Turning Points Since 1958

Pivotal events over the past 50 years that have helped to shape Florida today.

1998: The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), the standardized test used in the primary and secondary public schools of Florida, is first administered, replacing the State Student Assessment Test (SSAT) and the High School Competency Test (HSCT). The test is part of a package of education reforms initiated by Gov. Jeb Bush.

1998: Florida’s overall population approaches 16 million by the end of the decade, passing Pennsylvania and making Florida the fourth most populous state. Over the decade Florida’s Hispanic population increased by 63%, following an 83% increase during the 1980s.

1999: The number of philanthropies doubles during the decade.

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2000: The debacle over the state’s election process during the presidential vote puts Florida on the national stage — and touches off a national discussion over the mechanics of voting and voter registration.

2000: By the end of the millennium, Floridians’ median age of 37.8 is 2? years older than that of the average American. In 1950, it had been younger. Tourism, meanwhile, has grown to attract 70 million visitors, generating 663,000 jobs and $50 billion, comprising 12% of the gross state product.

2001: Governance of the state’s universities turns muddy. The Legislature disbands the state Board of Regents, but voters pass a constitutional amendment creating a statewide body, the Florida Board of Governors. Meanwhile, the university system continues to grow: By 2006, Florida had three of the top 10 largest universities in the country. The University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of Central Florida in Orlando each have more than 45,000 students. The University of Florida tops 52,000. In south Florida, Florida Atlantic University has about 26,000 students, while Florida International University has about 37,000. Meanwhile, the Legislature begins giving community colleges the ability to grant baccalaureate degrees in some subject areas. In 2008, the Legislature creates the Florida College System, elevating nine community colleges to bachelor’s-granting colleges.

2003: Between 1998 and 2008, the total value of Florida’s merchandise trade almost doubles, reaching $110 billion. More than 70 foreign and domestic banks active in international trade and finance have offices in Florida, including six of the 10 largest banks in the world.

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