School grades for the 2017-18 school year were released by the Florida Department of Education on June 27, and New Tampa’s schools continue to perform well.
Considering just the letter grades, all of the schools in New Tampa received the exact same grade as the previous year.
“The grades remained as they were,” says Anna Brown, Ph.D., the area superintendent for Hillsborough County Public Schools. Dr. Brown, who oversees all of New Tampa’s public schools, says, “We had no declines, but, within those grades, many schools actually increased their grade point, turning out an even stronger A.”
One such school was Chiles Elementary in Tampa Palms, which has had an A rating every year since opening in 2001. Principal Terri Evans says this year’s scores may be the highest ever achieved at the school.
“We have 32 points more than we had last year,” says Evans. “We had a big jump in learning gains and in the bottom quartile, and we’re especially excited about that.”
School letter grades are based on the compilation of individual scores on statewide tests, called Florida Standards Assessments (FSAs), at each grade level.
Learning gains describe how much each individual student gained from one year’s test to the next, and the bottom quartile describes the students who scored the lowest on their FSAs at the school.
“I think a letter grade is a bit of an overgeneralization,” Evans continues, “but I also think that to maintain that A every year, we have to be a really great school in a lot of ways. I’m hopeful that it reflects all that we do — that we have that kind of a school where kids want to go to school and learn and families want to be involved.”
The area’s other A schools are Clark, Pride and Tampa Palms elementary schools, and Benito and Liberty middle schools.
Turner/Bartels K-8 School earned a B, while four schools earned a C: Heritage and Hunter’s Green (HGE) elementary schools, as well as both of our area’s high schools, Freedom and Wharton.
While the consistency in grades is encouraging for the schools that continue to earn As, those that earned Cs are once again disappointed.
“For as hard as we work and what a wonderful school we have,” says HGE principal Gaye Holt proudly, “the letter grade doesn’t show what everyone expects of us.”
Dr. Brown agrees. “School grades are created by the state, with their definition of one way to categorize schools,” she says. “When you walk on the campuses, the grade of C is not reflective of the quality of teaching in each classroom or the quality of the relationships we have with our students and families.”
Despite some high-profile challenges at Wharton High, Dr. Brown says she is encouraged that its letter grade did remain the same, and didn’t drop.
She says that all of the schools in New Tampa have many very high-achieving students and excellent teaching and that all of our area schools are positioned well to provide excellent service to the students of New Tampa.
“The bottom line is, this is how we’re measured,” says Dr. Brown, “so we need to dig in and make sure we’re meeting every student’s needs at their individual level.”
Parents of Hillsborough County public school students who want to view their child’s FSA scores, including FSA End of Course exams, can view them at https://testscores.sdhc.k12.fl.us.
The complete DOE report is online at FLDOE.org/accountability/accountability-reporting/school-grades/.