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Helping more students fulfill their dreams of earning a diploma.

Hillsborough County Public School Educators are Helping More Students Fulfill their Dreams of Earning a Diploma

May 04, 2017 - Points of Pride

Some students in Hillsborough County Public Schools struggle to pass the Algebra I end-of-course exam or the Florida Standards Assessment. Even though they are making the grades all year long, the dream to graduate is blocked by a single exam. Not anymore.

Hillsborough County educators have been helping students find alternative ways to meet their graduation requirements. Students who earn concordant scores on other tests, including SATs are still able to graduate.

A concordant score allows students who do not pass the Florida Standards Assessment in high school to pass a similar test, several of which are college entrance exams that are approved by the State of Florida, to fulfill the FSA requirement for graduation.

This practice has helped many of our students reach a concordant score: 1,565 juniors and 389 seniors so far have met their reading graduation benchmark in the 2016-17 school year through their performance on SAT School Day, March 1.

“Every student is important and we want every student to walk across that stage and earn a diploma,” said Ross Anderson, HCPS Program Manager for Educational Advocacy.

Two students spoke at the School Board Meeting on May 2 to share their story about how these concordant score tests have made a difference in their lives.   (Video here:

“I want to thank you for giving me an opportunity because of that (concordant score) I was able to pass with the ACT and I am very grateful for that because I was feeling very down because I didn’t think I was going to graduate. I am very happy I can make my parents proud,” said German Lopez-Lopez, a senior of Durant High School.

HCPS has also found community partners to pay for students to take the SAT and ACT if their FSA score did not meet the minimum required for graduation. The Triad Foundation has donated $7.5K to help district students meet the ACT or SAT equivalent testing requirement for graduation.

“We all own this. That is a great thing. It eliminated a barrier for a lot of our students, said Anderson. “We are literally going through and meeting with every student who has not met the concordant score, making sure they are registered as either paying for it or making sure they have a waiver,” he added.

“I am glad to say I am happy to graduate because I have been taking the FSA and the FCAT since 10th grade and I’ve had a really hard time taking it. My mom is a single parent so she can’t do it all by herself so I am glad you gave me the waiver so that I can take the test because without all of you I would not be graduating. I’m just really happy,” said Marlandra Palmer, a senior at Chamberlain High School. She is interested in becoming a physical therapist after high school.

HCPS administrators closely monitor not only the graduation rate, but also the Key Performance Indicators that help predict the chance of a student receiving a diploma. The KPIs monitor student performance from kindergarten readiness through the end of their senior year and graduation. Behavior, attendance and course performance are all closely tracked to identify trends, implement corrective actions as well as give individual students personal goals in these area as the district is making great strides in maximizing student success as well as to continue closing the achievement gap.

HCPS’s graduation rate for 2017 was 79.1%, up three percentage points from the prior year with the ambitious goal of 90BY20, or having at least 90 percent of our students graduate by the year 2020.