1. Gradebook

What the reading numbers show in Hillsborough

Achievement Schools, as a group, are not improving. But the results differ from school to school.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times Reading teacher Ms. Patti Gonzales, right, works with (from left) Markus Barron, Tammiya Tinker and Xiomara Datil Padilla on their reading and vocabulary at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.
Published Jul. 9

In Hillsborough County, where reading skills are a school district priority, this year’s state data release delivered a mixed report.

The state of reading appears largely unchanged. The percentage of students testing at Level 3, which is considered grade level, rose by one percentage point, but so did the state level. As in 2018, Hillsborough remains a point behind the state in that measure, at 54 percent.

To measure the worst deficiencies, the Tampa Bay Times also calculates percentages of students who test at Level 1, which is the lowest of five and indicates the student is in need of intense intervention.

There, things also are about the same. Close to 24 percent of Hillsborough students in grades that take the Florida Standards Assessment scored at Level 1 this year. That’s nearly two points higher than the state rate of just under 22 percent.

Hillsborough this year had 10 schools where more than half the students scored at Level 1. That compares to 11 in 2018 including Van Buren, which is no longer counted because it has been folded into the Woodson K-8 School.

The 10 schools on this year’s list are James Elementary, with 63 percent reading at Level 1; Adams Middle, Sulphur Springs Elementary and Foster Elementary, with 57 percent; Potter Elementary and Jennings Middle, with 54.7; Shaw and Robles Elementary, with 54; Kimbell Elementary, 53; and Giunta Middle School, at 51 percent.

At most of these schools, fewer than 20 percent were reading at Level 3 or higher, or grade level. Kimbell, where 23 percent were Level 3 or higher, was the exception.

The Times also examined the district’s 50 Achievement Schools, which just finished their first year under the new improvement system.

More than half those schools showed reading results that were worst than those in 2018, whether they were measured by the number of Level 1 readers, the number scoring at Level 3 or higher, or both.

But not every situation is the same.

Memorial Middle and Booker T. Washington, which had some of the district’s lowest scores two years ago, have both been making steady gains. So are Edison Elementary, Sligh and McLane Middle. Those three, along with Washington, are among the seven chosen for Priority School status when Superintendent Jeff Eakins rolled out his first school improvement initiative in 2015.


  1. Chanell Newell, a reading teacher at Woodson K-8 School, is a finalist for Hillsborough Teacher of the Year. HCPS  |  HCPS
    The winners will be announced on Jan. 23.
  2. A school bus travels the early morning streets of Pasco County on the way to the first day of classes in 2017.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Adam's fight over school restrooms came before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. The district has since appealed. RON HARRIS  |  AP
    The closely watched case of Drew Adams, once a high school student in Florida, is heard by a three-judge panel in Atlanta.
  4. Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, on the left, present their latest pay request to the district's bargaining team during talks on Oct. 24, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Teachers have yet to reach a deal on their contract.
  5. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. It has met just once more since then. The Florida Channel
    Lawmakers have yet to set an aggressive agenda beyond talk of teacher pay as the 2020 legislative session nears.
  6. FILE - In a Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 file photo, transgender teen Drew Adams, left, leaves the U. S. Courthouse with his mother Erica Adams Kasper after the first day of his trial about bathroom rights at Nease High School, in Jacksonville, Fla. The transgender student's fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling in 2018 ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP, File) WILL DICKEY  |  AP
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. A bird's-eye view of USF St. Petersburg, which this week announced a new member of the Campus Board. She is Melissa Seixas, a Duke Energy executive who earned her master's degree at USF.
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  8. An LGBTQ Pride march participant walks under a large rainbow flag in New York earlier this year. School Board policy regarding LGBTQ students has been a frequent topic of discussion in recent months in Pasco County. CRAIG RUTTLE  |  AP
    The discourse is more civil and respectful, two weeks after a session that many deemed hate-filled and vile.
  9. The Florida Legislature so far has has left Gov. Ron DeSantis to set most education policy priorities for 2020.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. "Miss Virginia," a film about school choice, will be screened at the Tampa Theatre on Dec. 10.
    “Miss Virginia” will be playing at the Tampa Theater on Tuesday.