St. Petersburg High IB students set record-high diploma rate
Thirty years after graduating the first public school class with International Baccalaureate diplomas in the state, St. Petersburg High's IB class of 2017 reached another milestone.
The Pinellas County school district reported that 111 students -- 97 percent of the IB class -- earned their diplomas. It's a record-high for the school and the highest rate in the district for the 2016-17 school year.
At Largo High, just two years after it graduated its inaugural IB class, 39 students -- 93 percent of the class -- earned diplomas, and 84 percent of IB students earned diplomas at Palm Harbor University High. District-wide, 92 percent of students earned a diploma.
"They’re smart, but they work really hard and they’re really dedicated," said St. Petersburg High assistant principal Susan Farias. "The teachers do a fantastic job preparing them for these exams."
In May, St. Petersburg High invited the inaugural IB class from 1987 to the commencement ceremony for the class of 2017. Nineteen students from that class and four original IB teachers attended the event.
"We’ve never had a graduated class come back and meet the students, so that was special for this year," Farias said.
According to data provided by the school district, Palm Harbor University High may hold the record for highest diploma rate in Pinellas, achieving a rate of 97.5 percent in 2013.
The IB class at Hillsborough High in Tampa also increased to a diploma rate of 97 percent, up 1 percentage point from last year.
Between Pinellas and Hillsborough, Tampa Bay's diploma rate among IB programs surpasses the U.S. pass rate of 67 percent and the global pass rate of 78 percent, according to the Hillsborough County school district.
Aside from rigorous coursework, IB students must pass several mostly essay format exams and complete community service hours to receive a diploma. An IB diploma counts toward college credit courses at Florida public universities and colleges and qualifies students for a full Bright Futures scholarship.