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Tampa Bay area high schools finish strong in this year's 'U.S. News & World Report' rankings

Students from Plant High School in Tampa celebrate during commencement ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Plant was one of several public high schools  that finished well in this year's 'U.S. News & World Report' rankings. [Times (2013)]
Students from Plant High School in Tampa celebrate during commencement ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Plant was one of several public high schools that finished well in this year's 'U.S. News & World Report' rankings. [Times (2013)]
Published May 10, 2018

Ten of the Tampa Bay area's 62 traditional public high schools are among the 100 best in Florida this year, according to annual rankings released this week by U.S. News & World Report.

Four schools in Hillsborough County, one in Pinellas County and one in Pasco County finished in the top 50.

In a separate category for magnet programs, Tampa's Robinson High, Pinellas' Palm Harbor University High and Pasco's Land O'Lakes High finished highest among local schools, with statewide rankings of 32nd and 39th and 50th respectively. All three offer rigorous International Baccalaureate programs in addition to the traditional curriculum.

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In the charter school category, Tampa's Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School was the only school to be ranked, finishing 110th among its peers across the state. Another charter, St. Petersburg Collegiate High, was not ranked but received a "nationally recognized" label.

The rankings, based on data from more than 20,500 public high schools in the United States, track how well schools serve all of their students.

The publication looks at reading and math test scores, with particular attention on low-income students and whether they perform above expectations. Also factored in are how low-income, black and Hispanic students performed on tests compared to state averages.

In addition, the calculation includes a College Readiness Index based on the percentage of students at each school who took and passed AP and IB exams.

In the overall rankings, six Hillsborough high schools appeared in the state's top 100: Plant (29), Robinson (32), Newsome (33), Steinbrenner (37), Sickles (56) and Strawberry Crest (64).

Two Pinellas schools — Palm Harbor (39) and Osceola Fundamental High (100) — also finished in that group. So did two Pasco schools: Land O'Lakes (50) and Mitchell High (90).

The five area schools to finish highest nationally were Plant (343), Robinson (463), Newsome (466), Steinbrenner (513) and Palm Harbor (521).

"Along with our record-setting graduation rate and our ranking as a top large school district in the country, this shows another reason parents are excited about our schools," Hillsborough school superintendent Jeff Eakins said in a statement, adding praise for teachers, administrators and other staff.

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"I can't tell you how proud this news makes me," said Kurt Browning, the Pasco superintendent. "This is a testament to our administrators' deliberate planning, our teachers' high-impact instruction, and our students' hard work and focus."

Pinellas officials said in a statement that they were "pleased to be recognized for the systemic instructional processes that have been implemented to increase the level of achievement in our elementary, middle and high schools."

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