Despite generally tougher tests put in place this year, school grades remained relatively stable statewide for middle and elementary schools, according to results released Thursday.
More than three-quarters of schools received an A or B, with the number of A-rated elementary schools growing by 82 and the number of F-rated schools dropping from 44 to 31.
The vast majority of schools in Tampa Bay also earned A's and B's.
"Our teachers, principals and school district leaders deserve tremendous credit this year for answering the call of higher standards with resounding success," interim Education Commissioner John L. Winn said in a statement. "Over the last decade we have continued to raise the achievement bar to ensure our students are learning the skills they need to be successful in today's economy, and every time that bar has been raised our schools have redoubled their efforts to the direct benefit of children."
This year's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test was the first since the state raised its academic standards. That meant longer reading passages and tougher math problems.
Among Florida's largest districts, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Polk appeared to have much smaller declines in grades than others in the group, which includes Hillsborough and Pinellas, Winn said in a conference call with reporters.
He said the department intends to further analyze the details and release reports on how those districts were able to succeed.
Here's how Tampa Bay school districts did:
PASCO: Schools saw some improvement overall — the district's raw score rose to a high B — and several schools also had better results even with the higher standards this year. Among them:
• Four schools made an A and also adequate yearly progress under federal standards.
• Four schools went from a C to an A.
On the flip side, Pasco had three D schools and one F, Gulf Highlands Elementary. It's the first F that Pasco has had for an elementary school and its second F ever.
HERNANDO: The district saw an overall drop in performance, falling from an A to a B, but no school fell too far.
Of the district's 17 elementary, middle and K-8 schools, eight dropped one letter grade. Three of those — Moton Elementary, Deltona Elementary and Fox Chapel Middle schools — fell to a C.
Eight schools maintained their grades, all A's and B's except for one C, Eastside Elementary in Brooksville. Powell Middle School was the only school to improve, rising one level to an A.
PINELLAS: More elementary schools jumped a letter grade than dropped one, while the opposite was true with middle schools.
Meanwhile, the district's three F-rated elementary schools all improved their grades, but two other schools — Melrose and Maximo — fell into the F category.
"In Pinellas, we had significant improvements, especially in our struggling schools," superintendent Julie Janssen said in a written statement.
Last year among elementary schools, Pinellas had 32 A's, 19 B's, 14 C's, five D's and three F's. This year, the numbers are 38, 11, 18, four and two, respectively.
The news for Pinellas middle schools was more mixed.
Two schools improved their grades, including John Hopkins, which was hammered by a wave of brawls and arrests during the 2009-10 school year. It went from C to B. But six others fell, including Azalea and Pinellas Park. Both earned D's.
HILLSBOROUGH: All three of the district's traditional elementary schools with F grades last year improved their ranking.
Two other schools jumped to A status: Shaw Elementary, which earned a C last year, and Advantage Middle charter school, which started the year as a D school.
"I knew we worked hard, but getting an A was definitely a surprise and a happy accomplishment to know that all of our work paid off," said Shaw principal Holly Saia.
But two other schools tumbled in the opposite direction. Riverhills Elementary slipped from C to F, while Mount Pleasant Middle charter school dropped from A to F.