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Tallahassee, Florida -- The number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary "A" grade increased by 195 (7 percentage points) over last year in the final year of the current grading system, according to preliminary data released today by the Department of Education. Overall, 962 elementary and middle schools statewide earned the top grade.

The number of schools earning a preliminary "F" grade this year also increased. The Department is focused on ensuring all low performing schools are provided the necessary assistance and support they need to help their students achieve.

"The increase in the number of schools earning an 'A' this year is great news for students and teachers who have worked hard for this success," said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. "I appreciate the work by the educators, students and their families in the Big Bend and know they will continue to improve in the future."

Highlights in the Tampa Bay area include:

* Citrus County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of "A" by four schools in 2013-14, with 47 percent of Citrus County schools now earning an "A" compared to 20 percent in 2012-13. Citrus County has no schools with a preliminary grade of "D" or "F."

* Hillsborough County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of "A" by 36 schools in 2013-14, with 45 percent of Hillsborough County schools now earning an "A" compared to 29 percent in 2012-13. In addition, 16 Hillsborough County schools improved two letter grades between 2012-13 and 2013-14, including three schools that improved from a "D" to an "A."

"We know that our students and teachers have been working hard this year, and it's great to finish the school year and get these kinds of results,'' said Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. "During this transitional time, it's gratifying to see our students performing at such high levels. Our students, teachers, principals – and parents – should be very proud."

* Manatee County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of "A" by five schools in 2013-14, with 29 percent of Manatee County schools now earning an "A" compared to 19 percent in 2012-13. In addition, seven Manatee County schools improved two letter grades between 2012-13 and 2013-14.

"I emphasized just yesterday at the Manatee County Tiger Bay Club meeting that our district is on a path to greatness," said Superintendent Rick Mills. "Today's release of school grades certainly confirms that statement. I'm very proud of our students, parents, teachers and administrators for all of the great work they've done over the past year."

* Pinellas County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of "A" by two schools in 2013-14, with 30 percent of Pinellas County schools now earning an "A" compared to 28 percent in 2012-13. In addition, five Pinellas County schools improved two letter grades between 2012-13 and 2013-14.

"While it's clear we still have room for improvement and a lot of work yet to do, we have much to celebrate," said Pinellas Superintendent Michael A. Grego. "As we transition from one accountability system to another, we will not lose sight of the importance of staying focused on each student, every day of the year, not just on testing days."

* Polk County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of "A" by three schools in 2013-14, with 15 percent of Polk County schools now earning an "A" compared to 13 percent in 2012-13.

"We are proud of the hard work from our students, teachers and staff members," said Superintendent Kathryn M. LeRoy. "What the school grades show me is that there is still much more work to be done. A hands-on approach to addressing a situation doesn't mean change will happen quickly. You must roll up your sleeves, get in there and fix what you find."

* Sarasota County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of "A" by two schools in 2013-14, with 58 percent of Sarasota County schools now earning an "A" compared to 54 percent in 2012-13. Sarasota County has no schools with a preliminary grade of "D" or "F."

* One Hernando County school, Eastside Elementary School, improved two letter grades from an "F" to a preliminary grade of "C" between 2012-13 and 2013-14.

This is the final year school grades will be calculated using the current formula. The new grading system next year will support the more rigorous Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessment which will replace the FCAT. The new school grading formula will be more simple and transparent.

"The new grading system that will start next year will continue to be crafted with input from parents, teachers and educators," added Stewart. "Its focus on student achievement and gains will help ensure a fair accountability system that helps measure student knowledge of the new Florida Standards."

More information can be found at School Grades.

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