Hillsborough test results point to continued struggles in reading

ZACK WITTMAN  |  Times   Crowded Mort Elementary School narrowly missed a C last year and needs one this year to avoid takeover.
ZACK WITTMAN | Times Crowded Mort Elementary School narrowly missed a C last year and needs one this year to avoid takeover.
Published June 14 2018
Updated June 15 2018

It's not yet clear if this year's Florida Standard Assessment results will free seven Hillsborough County schools up from outside management, as Superintendent Jeff Eakins had hoped.

Things improved at Potter and Booker T. Washington Elementary Schools. But, while the two F-rated schools might have earned D grades, they will need C's or better to avoid outside management, as ordered by the state.

The two schools showed reading proficiency rates of 21 and 22 percent when the fourth and fifth grade scores were added to the third grade results, which were released earlier and showed 15 percent at grade level. The percentages reading at Level 1, the lowest, and signaling the student needs intervention, were just two points below the halfway mark, at 48 percent for both schools.

The state will calculate year-to-year growth and other variables before assigning the letter grades that will determine the schools' futures. If they don't receive at least a C, they will come under the management of Phalen Leadership Academy, an Indiana-based organization that operates independent schools similar to charters. That firm would have broad powers, including the ability to replace principals and teachers.

Results were mixed in the other five schools on the list. Memorial, the only middle school in the group, had 27 percent of students reading at grade level and 47 percent at Level 1.

Mort Elementary, which came close to earning a C in 2017, had 34 percent of its students reading at grade level and only 32 percent at Level 1. The others – Foster, Oak Park and Sheehy- fell between Mort and the lowest two. Details, which include grades in science and other courses, are here.

Gradebook calculated the Level 1 rates, grade by grade, for both Hillsborough and the state.

The result: 24 percent of Hillsborough's students are at level 1, two points higher than the state average of 22 percent.

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