U.S. News: These Tampa Bay area high schools are among the best in Florida

The annual rankings put a dozen high schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco in the state’s top 100.
Plant High in Tampa was one of 12 Tampa Bay area schools among the top 100 in Florida, as ranked by U.S. News & World. The rankings were released Tuesday.
Plant High in Tampa was one of 12 Tampa Bay area schools among the top 100 in Florida, as ranked by U.S. News & World. The rankings were released Tuesday.
Published April 30

Twelve Tampa Bay area schools were ranked among the top 100 public high schools in Florida, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best High Schools” rankings released today.

The highest-ranked area school was Tampa’s Plant High, which finished 36th in the state and 582nd in the nation. U.S. News, a digital news and information company, said this year’s rankings were the most comprehensive ever, as it now ranks 17,000 schools nationwide – up from 2,700 last year.

READ THE GRADEBOOK: The talk of Florida education.

“Our mission with the Best High Schools rankings has always been to educate families about the schools in their district,” Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News, said in a statement. “By evaluating more schools than ever before, the new edition expands that focus so all communities can see which schools in their area are successfully serving their students – including historically underserved populations.”

The company also ranks states based on the percentage of their high schools that finished in the top 25 percent nationally. On that score, Florida ranked 6th with nearly 37 percent of its high schools in that category, behind Massachusetts, Maryland, California, Connecticut and New Jersey.

The school rankings are based on several factors, including: college readiness as measured on Advanced Placement and IB exams; the breadth of a school’s college curriculum as measured by the percentage 12th graders who took and passed AP and IB exams; scores on math and reading tests; the graduation rate; and an analysis of how minority students are faring in the schools.

The education world is awash in numbers, so there are many ways to measure school quality. Intangibles like the talent level and engagement of teachers also come into play. But many look to U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings as one of the more respected barometers of academic success. They are highly anticipated each year and frequently used in promotional efforts by schools, school districts and elected officials.

Aside from Plant High, the other Hillsborough County schools in Florida’s top 100 are Steinbrenner (43), Newsome (46), Sickles (53), Brooks Debartolo Collegiate (59), Robinson (68) and Tampa Bay Tech (95).

Brooks Debartolo stood out as one of the top-ranked charter high schools in the region, along with St. Petersburg Collegiate High, which ranked 140th in the state.

Four high schools in Pinellas County also made the top 100: East Lake (76), St. Petersburg (97), Palm Harbor University High (98) and Osceola Fundamental High (100).

Pasco County’s Land O’Lakes High ranked 54th.

U.S. News & World Report ranked 555 high schools in the state.

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