More than 59 percent of elementary and middle schools in Hillsborough County Public Schools earned an A or B grade during a year when the state raised academic standards and sent out warnings that school grades likely would be lower as a result of the new standards.
Nearly 37 percent of the elementary and middle schools earned A grades, and 31 percent maintained their A grade from last year. High school grades are not expected to be released until late fall, after graduation rates and other factors are calculated.
“Many of our schools are celebrating today,” said Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. “We knew that the raised standards would have an impact. Despite the fact that we are in a transition year, most of our schools earned A or B, half of our schools maintained their grade, and several improved their grade. That’s a direct result of the hard work of our students and teachers.”
Traditional schools that improved their grades by one letter grade include Apollo Beach, Boyette Springs, Broward, Chiaramonte, Cork, Heritage, Lincoln, Miles, Mitchell, Pizzo, Riverhills Tinker, and Wimauma elementary schools.
One school that saw dramatic improvement during a year of tougher standards is Lomax Elementary Magnet School in Tampa, which improved from a C grade to an A. Principal Connie Chisholm attributed the improvement to the laser focus of her teachers, as well as the extended learning day program and the Saturday tutoring that are offered to Lomax students.
During this year of raised standards, Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson wrote an open letter to parents explaining the expected impact of the new standards.
“As grades for elementary, middle and many combination schools become available you may notice that some schools have lower grades than last year,” Commissioner Robinson wrote. “That does not necessarily mean that the schools, teachers or students are not doing as well as they were before. There were a number of changes to the state’s accountability system this year that impacted the results.”
Robinson agreed to record a phone message for Hillsborough County Public Schools, putting the new standards and school grades in perspective. The recorded message was sent to parents of Hillsborough County Public Schools students Tuesday night on the eve of the release of school grades. The commissioner’s entire letter to parents is posted on the Florida Department of Education website and on the school district homepage.
Here's how local school did:
Alafia Elementary School -- A
Barrington Middle School -- A
Bevis Elementary School -- A
Boyette Springs Elementary School -- A
Burns Middle School -- A
Cimino Elementary School -- A
FishHawk Creek Elementary School -- A
Giunta Middle School -- D
Kids Community College -- C
Lithia Springs Elementary School -- A
Mulrennan Middle School -- A
Nelson Elementary School -- B
Randall Middle School -- A
Rodgers Middle School -- C
Riverview Elementary School -- B
Stowers Elementary School -- A
Symmes Elementary School -- A
Valrico Lake Advantage Center -- A
Winthrop Charter School -- C