Hernando County's third-graders raised the bar just a touch on state reading test scores this year, outperforming school districts in Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas to push past the state average, according to data recently released by the Florida Department of Education.Of the 1,708 Hernando students who took the state's required third-grade reading test, 62 percent passed with a score of Level 3 or higher, a 1 percentage point boost from last year. Students with a Level 3 ranking are considered by the state to be reading at grade level. Results will factor into state school grades, as well as an overall rating for the Hernando County School District, to be released this summer.In response to the results, released last week, Superintendent Lori Romano in a statement praised Hernando's teachers, reading coaches and administrators for their efforts to help students succeed. Then she gave a nod to parents."When we include parents and engage students in their own learning, students achieve," she wrote. "These results are evidence of that collaboration."Six of Hernando's 13 elementary and K-8 schools improved on their overall pass rate from 2017, according to the data. Students at Challenger K-8 in Spring Hill performed best, with 92 percent passing. Only 1 percent of Challenger students earned Level 1, the lowest possible score, which sets them up to repeat the grade."Ninety-two percent is excellent," said district manager of assessment and accountability Linda Pierce. "Challenger and Chocachatti both continue to increase."Students at Chocachatti Elementary and Explorer K-8 raised their schools' scores by 9 percentage points, the data shows. Chocachatti had a 78 percent pass rate, and Explorer a 69.Those at Brooksville's long-struggling Moton Elementary scored worst — 35 percent of students passed, which is two percentage points lower than in 2017. But the number of students scoring at Level 1 moved to 34 percent from 35 percent last year.Spring Hill Elementary made the largest gains in the county, jumping from a 56 percent to a 72 percent pass rate. Pierce said the school has improved its ranking every year since 2015, when only 48 percent of third-graders scored Level 3 or better. The 16 percent boost this year was the most significant growth, she said, and was supported by a decreased number of students earning a Level 1 score.Both Westside and Eastside elementary schools did worse than last year, with their pass rates dropping by 5 and 6 percentage points, respectively. The most significant losses at those schools came from higher numbers of students earning a Level 1 this year, Pierce said.The data shows a quarter of students at both schools earned a Level 1, compared to 6 percent at Westside and 15 percent at Eastside last year.Data for the district and each school is available here.Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.