Hillsborough County, Florida -- Many Hillsborough County public schools showed impressive gains despite tougher standards that have made it more difficult for schools to show improvement.
About half of Hillsborough County's middle schools showed improvement, including the district's two new single-gender schools. Both schools - the Ferrell Girls Preparatory Academy and the Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy - were created two years ago and have improved each year. The Girls Preparatory Academy improved from a C grade to an A grade, while the Boys Preparatory Academy improved from a D grade to a B grade.
Forty of our elementary schools also improved their scores, including Graham Elementary School. Graham Elementary improved from a D grade to a B grade. Only two percent of our schools received an F grade, including charter schools, while the average across the state is four percent.
The calculation of school grades has been the subject of intense debate in recent years, but especially this year. Several years of changing standards have resulted in volatility in the grades, and Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia and other superintendents have urged the Education Commissioner to take steps to restore stability to the system.
"This is a year of transition and that has contributed to some misunderstandings and confusion for educators, parents, and the public,'' Elia said. "The big story is that at a time when it is more difficult to raise your school grade, due to hard work and intense focus many of our schools raised their grade."
Elia pointed out that schools that showed improvement were not helped in any way by the state's decision to provide a "safety net" preventing schools from dropping more than one letter grade.
"Give credit where credit is due," Elia said. "The schools that saw increases should be proud. Their progress is due to what happened in their classrooms and not due to any decisions made in Tallahassee."
High school grades will be released in the fall, when additional grade components are added. These include graduation rates and student participation in accelerated course work.
For a list of the school grades go to the Florida Department of Education website at http://www.fldoe.org/.