Hillsborough County public schools rank high among top performing districts within Florida

Hillsborough County families and teachers have quite a bit to be proud of as newly-released school grades show schools across the district made major improvements.

The school district's public schools now rank in the top 20 best-performing districts in the state of Florida for the first time in nearly two decades. This comes after 96% of its schools received A, B, or C letter grades.  

Superintendent Addison Davis sung the praises of students and teacher during a news conference at Thonotosassa Elementary School. 

"We are starting to gel together to be able to move this district in great strides," Davis said. "It is evident in their outcome with the FSA scores where you see our greatest gains is where we focus."

Hillsborough County public schools were previously ranked 35th in the state. They are now ranked 19th. Only Sarasota County Schools ranked higher in the Tampa Bay region. 

"This is a triumphant celebration for our entire community, and it all begins with our talented and dedicated educators who possessed a laser-like focus on accelerated learning while nurturing the emotional well-being of every student," Superintendent Davis said in a statement. "In partnership with educators, support staff, administrators, leaders, families, Board Members, and our community, Hillsborough County Public Schools has realized an incredible trajectory into the top 20 school districts in the State of Florida. I am inspired by the victories we have achieved together so far, and I want our entire community to know this is only the beginning."

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Here’s a list of some of the district’s achievements:

  • Thonotosassa Elementary School improved two letter grades, moving from an "C" letter grade to an "A" for the first time in more than two decades. Thonotosassa has jumped from a "D" to an "A" in only two years.
  • Maniscalco Elementary had the highest point increase in the county over the last two years, jumping 247 points to earn an "A" grade for the first time in 4 years.
  • Heritage Elementary School moved from a "C" to an "A".
  • James Elementary improved from an "F" to a "C".
  • McDonald Elementary earned a "B", increasing two letter grades from a "D".
  • Sulphur Springs Elementary jumped to a "C" grade after 6 years of a "D" or lower.
  • Robles Elementary attained a "C" grade after 7 years of earning a "D" or lower.
  • Lockhart Elementary improved from a "D" to a "C".
  • Miles Elementary earned a "C", up one letter grade from a "D".
  • 11 schools improved from a "D" grade since 2019.
  • In total, 17 out of 39 schools designated as persistently low performing are projected to be removed from the list due to consistent improvement since 2019.

"I cannot overstate the exceptional commitment to academic excellence by our educators, support staff, and leaders," said Terry Connor in a statement, the Deputy Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer for the district. "The obstacles that have continually emerged over the past two years were difficult. Still, our schools remained steadfast and dedicated to overcoming the challenges, resulting in the progress evidenced by the Florida Department of Education data."

Hillsborough has previously had dozens of, what the state calls, "persistently low-performing schools," which are schools that have had three consecutive grades lower than a "C." 

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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic halting FSA's, the district had 39 schools on that list, but is now down to 23.

Moving forward, the state will no longer be using FSA tests and instead will be introducing a progress monitoring system during the upcoming school year, in which students receive three tests throughout the school year.

The Florida Department of Education said the improvements in Hillsborough are an example of what many districts in the state are experiencing; 84% of schools graded "D" or "F" in 2019 improved their grades in 2022.