Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough challenges state's "turnaround schools" model

TAMPA — Middleton High School gained a reprieve this week after the state Board of Education granted it another year to show progress under a turnaround plan.

The move followed a personal appeal by Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia, who traveled to Tallahassee on Tuesday to argue the school's case. Had she failed, the school could have faced closure or takeover by a charter or outside management firm.

Elia said Middleton has shown enough improvement to warrant another year under district supervision.

But she said the problem is larger than one school. Under the state's differentiated accountability program, schools that are truly failing are listed right along with improving schools on a state watch-list.

"Middleton was never an F," Elia said. "And right now, if you looked at Franklin Middle School, it has had a C for two years and it would be (at a higher level) if it was judged right now, and yet it's in Intervene status."

Since 2008, both Middleton and Franklin have been on the bottom-ranked "intervene" list under that system, which was launched two years ago to help struggling schools show improvement under federal guidelines. They were joined this fall by F-rated Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg.

Elia said she asked the Board of Education to consider tweaking the program so that improving schools don't get wrongly labeled.

"I'm just saying we're doing really good work, and we have to continue that good work," she said. "But when staffs and schools are working hard, I don't think it's appropriate to categorize them as the worst school in the state. I think that's not true."

Middleton made some improvements on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test this spring, such as sophomore reading, while other scores dropped. But principal Owen Young said the school also made gains among low-income and special-needs students, as well as those retaking the FCAT.

"We have seen some gains," Young said. "It's happening. It's just a process."

Department of Education officials said the differentiated accountability system was designed to be rigorous — hard to get into intervene status, and hard to get out. Such schools receive extra money for specialists, but must also follow state guidelines that typically include dismissal of ineffective teachers and administrators.

By making it hard for schools to leave intervene status, the state is "keeping our focus on them until they reach a point where their progress is stable and the risk of backward movement becomes minimal," said spokesman Tom Butler.

But some districts have asked the state to find ways of recognizing improvement among schools in the bottom category, he said. "We are taking those recommendations into consideration."

Tom Marshall can be reached at or (813) 226-3400.

Hillsborough challenges state's "turnaround schools" model 09/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 23, 2010 12:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates


    Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

    University of South Florida undergraduates gather at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa for last fall's commencement ceremony. A new survey finds their average student debt upon graduating was $22,276. Statewide, 2016 Florida grads ranked a relatively unencumbered 45th among states, averaging $24,461 in student debt. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Romano: One person, one vote is not really accurate when it comes to Florida


    Imagine this:

    Your mail-in ballot for the St. Petersburg mayoral election has just arrived. According to the fine print, if you live on the west side of the city, your ballot will count as one vote. Meanwhile, a ballot in St. Pete's northeast section counts for three votes.

    Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections worker Andrea West adds mail ballots to an inserter Sept. 22 at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Service Center in Largo. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
  3. St. Petersburg will hold first budget hearing tonight

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Sunshine City's new property tax rate looks exactly like its current rate. For the second year in a row, Mayor Rick Kriseman does not plan to ask City Council for a tax hike or a tax cut.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman talks about the state of the city on Tuesday, two days after Hiurricane Irma passed through the state. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. 'We were lucky': Zephyrhills, Dade City get back to normal after Irma


    Two weeks after Hurricane Irma struck Florida, residents and city officials in eastern Pasco — hit harder than other areas of the county — are moving forward to regain normalcy.

    Edward F. Wood, 70, tugs at a branch to unload a pile of debris he and his wife picked up in their neighborhood, Lakeview in the Hills in Dade City.
  5. After Hurricane Irma, many ask: How safe are shelters?


    NAPLES — Residents of the Naples Estates mobile home park beamed and cheered when President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott strolled amid piles of shredded aluminum three days after Hurricane Irma to buck up residents and hail the work of emergency responders. But almost nobody had anything good to say about …

    The Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area opened its doors to anyone seeking temporary shelter during Hurricane Irma. Evacuees were housed in the Istaba multipurpose building and was quickly at capacity housing over 500 people. [Saturday, September 9, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]