If an athletic team made this kind of comeback, it would be the talk of the town. But when it comes to academic achievements, the excitement is less palpable. But that unjust reality should not deter Hernando County students and teachers from celebrating the school district's first-ever "A" ranking for its score on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
Hernando joins 31 of Florida's 67 counties that have earned A's from the state Department of Education. Now, all but two of Hernando's 20 public schools are ranked A or B, with only Hernando and Central high schools not meeting that standard; Central fell from a C last year to a D this year, and Hernando scored a D for the fourth year in a row. Those disappointments should be a priority for improvement for superintendent Wayne Alexander and the staffs at those schools.
But those setbacks cannot overshadow the impressive achievements of the majority of schools. In particular, Springstead High School, Powell Middle School and Spring Hill Elementary School earn praise for improving by two grades their scores from last year.
At the same time, seven schools that already were rated A maintained their level of excellence. Achieving a goal is difficult, but repeating it is even harder, and those schools that did should take pride in their success.
Every employee in the district who has a role in the classroom shares in this feat. And, even though it would be impossible to isolate what efforts are responsible for the improvement, this should be a clear indication to Alexander and the School Board that it is important to continue funding important curriculum initiatives like reading and math coaches.
The FCAT is not the ideal way to assess what students have learned. But it is the yardstick by which all districts are measured, and all the teachers, teachers' aides, administrators, students — and don't forget their parents — who made it happen should savor this academic victory.