Hillsborough graduating a lot more than Pinellas
Besides highlighting Florida’s sad graduation rate, again, the latest “Diplomas Count” report also revived an enduring local mystery: Why, despite more challenging demographics, do Hillsborough schools seem to outperform Pinellas schools?
According to Education Week’s calculations, Hillsborough graduated 62.6 percent of its students in 2006, putting it No. 19 among the 50 biggest districts nationwide and No. 2 among the 10 biggest in Florida. Hillsborough, which has a greater percentage of poor and minority students than Pinellas, even made the newspaper’s “overachievers” list – a list of 33 school districts around the country that are performing far better than their demographics would lead many to expect. (See Page 10 of the overachievers list.)
Pinellas, on the other hand, graduated 50.3 percent in 2006, according to Education Week, good enough for No. 36 among the big boys nationally and next to last (ahead of Duval) among the Big 10 in Florida.
The most recent state data shows Pinellas narrowing the graduation gap with Hillsborough, but still 5.6 percentage points behind.
Ron Matus, state education reporter