1. Gradebook

Who’s ready for kindergarten?

School by school, Hillsborough releases statistics on readiness
Chester Taylor Elementary School kindergartener Urijah Smiley, 5, used an iPad to access an reading application, Bookshelf, while practicing reading on Jan. 23, 2018, at the school in Zephyrhills. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times }
Published Mar. 18
Updated Mar. 18

Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins is looking at preschool as a way to even the playing field as children move through the K-12 system.

But does the system have preschool deserts?

Eakins added about 400 preschool slots this year to elementary schools that had available space. Later in the month, he will meet with preschool providers to make sure they understand what children will need when they enter kindergarten. And he has asked for an inventory of early childhood centers in closest proximity to the 50 “Achievement” schools where test scores and reading levels are often too low.

Here’s what the district’s elementary schools look like in terms of kindergarten readiness, defined as having basic skills such as letter and number recognition, and familiarity with shapes and colors. The Tampa Bay Times added the column showing 2018 state grades.

You might notice that preschool readiness does not always correspond with the school grade. One reason for that: The state gives schools credit toward their grade if the students have made learning gains from one week to the next.

Districtwide, roughly half the students enter school kindergarten-ready. Eakins hopes to increase that to 80 percent, now true at only two schools.


  1. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. Times staff
    Go to the school district website before 8 a.m. Monday to state your case.
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
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  5. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  8. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  9. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
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  10. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.