By Matt Wiley

School Chart
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School report cards are out for 2012-13 school year in the Hillsborough County School District (HCSD) and, overall, New Tampa’s elementary and middle schools once again scored highly.

Of the 61 “A”-rated elementary and middle schools in the HCSD (which received a “C” overall from the Florida Department of Education {DOE} this year, a letter grade drop from its “B” in 2011-12), seven are New Tampa schools, including Chiles, Clark, Pride, Tampa Palms and Turner elementary schools, as well as Benito and Liberty middle schools.
High school grades have not yet been determined and will be released later in the year, usually in December. 

Across the state, the DOE reports that the number of “A” elementary schools decreased from 861 (48%) in 2012 to 479 (27%) in 2013 and that the number of “B” elementary schools increased from 443 (25%) in 2012 to 503 (28%) in 2013.

In New Tampa, the number of “A” elementary schools decreased from 6 to 5. The only local elementary school to receive a “B” was Heritage Elementary, dropping from an “A” last year, and Hunter’s Green Elementary (HGE) dropped from the only “B” elementary school in 2012 to the only “C” elementary school in New Tampa with this year’s tougher standards.

The DOE reports that the number of “A” middle schools also decreased, from 255 “A” schools (44%) in 2012 to 177 (31%) in 2013, while the number of “B” middle schools increased from 122 (21%) in 2012 to 123 (21%) in 2013.

Bartels Middle School was the only New Tampa middle school to earn a “B” this past school year.

A Higher Standard

It should be noted that schools faced newly tougher state standards to earn their respective grades in 2012-13, as Florida gets ready to begin testing using standards set under the nationwide Common Core State Standards Initiative, a set of standards that already has been adopted by 45 states to establish “a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics.”

But, higher standards didn’t stop most of the schools in the New Tampa area from performing well, such as Benito Middle on Cross Creek Blvd., which also received an “A” from the DOE.

“I think our grade is reflective of our community,” says Benito principal John Sanders. “Our kids, their parents and the teachers here all worked really hard. We’re really very thankful.”

Based partly upon the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) 2.0, elementary school grades are measured using an 800-point scale (900 for middle schools), also taking into account End-Of-Course (EOC) test scores, which are given in middle and high schools in a variety of subjects, and the Florida Alternate Assessment (FAA), an alternative test for students who are unable to complete the FCAT test due to cognitive disabilities.

Points are given for students who score “satisfactory” or higher and/or make learning gains. A point is awarded for each percent of students who score satisfactory or better in each subject area of each test.

For example, students that score a level 3 or higher on the math, reading and science FCAT 2.0 tests, and/or a level 4 on EOC tests, and a 3.5 or higher on FCAT writing, the percentage of students that achieve that level in each subject is the point value that the school is given. To earn an “A,” at least 95 percent of the school’s students must have been tested and at least 595 points must have been earned.

To determine learning gains, test scores for students in each subject on FCAT, EOC and FAA tests are examined by comparing those scores with the previous year. If students perform at the same level or improve on their achievement level, the school also earns points for that percentage of students.

If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is.

“It’s been a confusing time for everyone,” says HCSD communications manager Tanya Arja. “There have been changes to scoring and higher standards put into place. But, many schools in the District still showed gains. We want to let parents, teachers and students know that this is a transition period and that the main thing that matters is making sure that the kids are improving.”

For info, please visit and click on the “School Grades” tab.


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