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Hillsborough County again has most schools on Florida’s lowest performing list

District officials have pledged to improve reading instruction at the elementary level.

The definitions might have changed, but the results remained the same: Hillsborough County continued to have the largest number of elementary schools on Florida's "Low 300" list.

Thirty-nine Hillsborough schools, including one charter, appeared on the list, which ranks schools on a three-year average of student passing rates and gains on the state's annual language arts test.

A year ago, Hillsborough had 38 schools on the list, including three charters. That was when the state ranked the schools based only on current year language arts exam performance.

By comparison, much larger Miami-Dade County had 18 schools on the list, and Broward County had 29. Only Duval County came close to Hillsborough, with 35 schools on the list.

Other Tampa-area districts saw increases in their representation, too.

Pinellas County had 20 schools on the list, up from 17. Pasco had 10, up from four. Hernando County had one, same as a year ago.

The state has in the past targeted schools on this list for increased funding, so they can provide additional reading instruction. Before this year, the schools had to add an hour of lessons to their days, but this year they are allowed to incorporate the instruction into regular school hours.

State reports have indicated the extra time on reading has yielded positive results for many schools. Still, district officials do not relish having schools on the list.

Hillsborough superintendent Jeff Eakins recently announced his goal of having more students proficient at reading by the time they take the third-grade state language arts test. The upshot, in part, should be fewer schools on the list.

He also took steps Thursday to shake up leadership at several of the schools that landed on the list, to avoid the type of state criticism he endured earlier in 2018 for not removing principals at low-performing campuses.

The district has put together an advisory committee on reading, which is supposed to begin work shortly.

The local elementary schools on the Lowest 300 list for 2018 are:

Hernando — Moton

Hillsborough — Forest Hills, Sheehy, Reddick, MOSI Partnership, Kimbell, Thompson, Lamb, Bing, Just, Broward, Bryan, Burney, Clair-Mel, Cleveland, Dover, Edison, Folsom, Foster, Gibsonton, Graham, Jackson, Kenly, Mango, McDonald, Miles, Mort, Oak Park, Palm River, Pizzo, Potter, Robles, Ruskin, Shaw, Springhead, Thonotosassa, Washington, James, Wimauma, Village of Excellence Academy

Pasco — Cox, Pasco, Chasco, West Zephyrhills, Gulf Trace, Hudson, Lacoochee, Seven Springs, Northwest, Calusa

Pinellas — Bardmoor, Belleair, Campbell Park, Dunedin, Eisenhower, Fairmount Park, Sexton, Gulfport Montessori, High Point, Lakewood, Lealman Avenue, Maximo, McMullen-Booth, Melrose, Mildred Helms, Mount Vernon, Pinellas Park, Ponce de Leon, Sand Lane, Woodlawn

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