Tampa, Fla. – (December 21, 2018) – It’s a record setting day in Hillsborough County Public Schools. Students, teachers and staff at all Hillsborough County Public Schools can celebrate with the announcement that our district’s graduation rate has now soared to 85.8%, another all-time record high for our district.
The 85.8% graduation rate is 2.9 percentage points higher than last year and has risen 12.3 percentage points since 2014.
The increase in the graduation rate amounts to an astounding 1,055 more students earning a high school diploma, which highlights the determination of students and the dedication of teachers and staff who work with them every day.
This increase in our graduation rate should be celebrated across our community. We all play an important part in student success. Because students with a high school diploma earn $380,000 more during their lifetimes compared to students who don’t graduate, this increase has a positive economic impact of more than $400 million on our community.
Hillsborough County Public Schools continues to close the achievement gap – the difference in academic performance between groups of students. Our African American students went up 5 percentage points in one year to 79.4%. Our Hispanic graduates jumped 3.5 percentage points higher than last year to 83.4%. Our English Language Learners are up 6.8 points to 75.1%.
Our district saw some of the biggest improvements among our students with disabilities. A change in state law a few years ago now makes it possible for students with disabilities to earn a standard diploma instead of a special diploma, if they meet all graduation requirements. A high school diploma means that they can access many post-secondary opportunities, such as universities, technical colleges and they can join the armed forces, in addition to being more competitive in the workforce. The graduation rate for students with disabilities increased from 64.5% to 76.3%, a 11.8 percentage point jump.
A few highlights from our schools include:
For the second year in a row, Tampa Bay Technical High School near Temple Terrace has the highest graduation rate in our district with an amazing 99.1%, up 1.5 points from last year. The magnet school was just four students shy of reaching a perfect graduation rate.
Spoto High School in Riverview had the highest graduation rate increase, jumping nearly 8 percentage points from 80.4% to 88.3%.
The School Board set graduation rates as one of its key priorities. Since Superintendent Jeff Eakins took the helm of Hillsborough County Public Schools, the graduation rate has steadily climbed from 76% in 2014-2015, to 79.1% in 2015-2016, to 82.9% in 2016-2017 and now 85.8% in 2017-2018.
Our district’s theme this year has been We Climb Together, creating a culture where everyone becomes a “graduation champion” for our children. It’s all about the climb to our goal of a 90% graduation rate by 2020. Our district’s more than 24,000 employees work together to personally take part in supporting and guiding students toward graduation.