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Around Tampa Bay, more high school students than ever are taking college caliber advanced placement tests, but they're failing 60 percent of them. Students in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties took almost 39,000 AP exams in 2009 - up 8,185 from the year before, according to preliminary results obtained by the St. Petersburg Times. More than 15,000 tests received a score of 3 or higher on the test's 1-5 scale, enough to earn academic credit at many colleges. That's 3,284 more passed tests than the year before. But it also translates into a pass rate of 40 percent. The national rate is 57 percent. For more and to see results by district and school, go to

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Speaking regularly to students

Tampa Bay Bucs coach Raheem Morris, seen above at Sunday's home game against the Dallas Cowboys, teamed up last week with Pinellas and Hillsborough schools to announce the launch of the Be an Ultimate Character Student initiative. After each Bucs home game, Morris will host a podcast to air in middle and high schools promoting education, leadership, determination and character. During away games, schools will be provided ideas to reinforce the character-building message.

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Middleton High reorganized to meet state conditions

The state wanted a shakeup at Middleton High last spring, and Hillsborough County says it delivered, in a report approved last week by the School Board that's headed to the state Board of Education. Middleton posted FCAT gains last spring but remained on a watch list after earning its sixth straight "D" grade. The district had to "replace the principal, all assistant principals and instructional coaches" to block a state takeover or conversion to charter school. It also had to reassign teachers not "highly qualified and effective," add new instructional coaches, create an advisory board and search for a new principal with a "clear record of turning around a similar school." The district said it had adopted most of those measures.

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Number of the week

122 millionThe amount of recognition money the state is handing out this year to 2,103 schools with A and/or improving grades, a fall ritual begun under former Gov. Jeb Bush. Local schools will get nearly $16 million. School advisory councils will decide how to spend the money.

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This week

School boards meet Tuesday.

Hillsborough: 3 p.m.

Pasco: 4 p.m. workshop; 6 p.m. final budget hearing.

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What do you say?

What's the best way for schoolsto spend state recognition funds?

Teacher bonuses 69% 136 votes

School supplies 17% 34 votes

Put it in general fund 10% 19 votes

Extra temporary staff 4% 7 votes

Go online to the Gradebook to see updated tallies and to vote.

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