1. Pasco

Pasco high schools see improvement in AP testing

Florida has placed a premium on getting high school students into tough, college-prep courses, often defined as Advanced Placement classes.

After years of low participation, Pasco County schools have gotten on this train. The district has seen a steady rise in the number of students earning a 3 or higher on their AP exams, right along with the numbers of students taking the tests.

For the most recent testing cycle, 4,249 students took a test, up 6 percent in a year and 110 percent over five years, according to the district. Of those, 2,904 earned 3's or better, up 22 percent in a year.

Among the strongest performers were Gulf, Wiregrass Ranch and Sunlake high schools, each of which had more than two-third of their tests taken in the passing range. Land O'Lakes and Mitchell high schools had the highest participation rates, each just around 31 percent, while Pasco, Hudson and Fivay high schools saw strong increases in their still low participation rates.

Still, the results aren't all rosy. District statistics show that Anclote and Pasco high schools continues to struggle to get students into AP course and exams. Each had fewer than 200 students take an AP exam.