Researching Tampa School Districts
You can find out a lot of information before you ever get near a particular school. First, you’ll want to find out information about the county in which you’d be living. The city of Tampa falls within Hillsborough County, whose school district governs 243 different schools, including charter and magnet schools. Information about any Hillsborough County school can be accessed through the school district’s Web site . St. Petersburg residents fall within Pinellas County’s school district , and the suburbs north of Tampa fall within Pasco County’s school district .
You may want to do some research to find out what’s been going on at the district level to learn about potential long-term trends: is there a lot of infighting within the school board? Are new schools being built? Are there any controversial curriculum decisions that may lead you to look elsewhere for schooling? Try Tampa Bay Online’s education news page or “The Gradebook,” a blog on education issues by St. Petersburg Times writers.
Researching Tampa schools
In addition to county- or district-level information, you’ll want to gather information on individual schools. The Florida Department of Education “grades” schools based on students’ performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). You can look up grades for individual schools or entire districts at the Department of Education’s school grades website . More detailed information is available in a series of spreadsheets on topics such as SAT scores, dropout rates, and teachers’ average number of years of experience.
Notable Tampa schools
Two Hillsborough County schools made US News and World Report’s 2009 roundup of best high schools: Robinson High School and Tampa Bay Tech High School. The former does not offer Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureat (IB) classes but scored well in performance measures; the latter, a magnet school, does offer AP classes. Palm Harbor University High School, in Pinellas County, also made the US News list, offering both AP and IB classes.
If you decide you don’t want a public school, you can search the Florida Council of Independent Schools’s list of member schools. Local resources for homeschoolers include the Pinellas Parent Educators Association and LIFE of Tampa .
Keep in mind that unfortunately, like other parts of Florida, the Tampa area has been vulnerable to the real-estate downturn, and drops in home values affect school funding directly. Once you find an attractive school, don’t hesitate to take a tour, attend a PTA meeting, or try to get information from a parent or teacher already at the school. Some schools perform more successfully in the face of economic hardship than others, and the more infor
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