ST. PETERSBURG — Palm Harbor University High School is the best in Pinellas County and among the top schools in the state when it comes to preparing students for college, according to U.S. News and World Report.
In the spring 2014 edition of the magazine’s highly touted school rankings released last week, Palm Harbor ranked 28th out of 683 high schools in Florida’s 73 school districts for students’ college readiness.
About 57 percent of students at Palm Harbor University passed the state math exams at proficiency level or higher, and 79 percent passed the state reading exams. In addition, about 62 percent of the 12th grade students took International Baccalaureate exams, which are college-level courses offered nationwide, and 43 percent passed — the highest rate in the school district. Those numbers, as well as students’ scores in IB classes or Advanced Placement courses, another college-level curricula, determined school’s “college readiness” ranking.
Palm Harbor University also ranked 481 out of the 31,242 high schools nationally based on students’ proficiency in math and reading, and it was the only Pinellas school to receive a spot on any U.S. News and World Report lists this year. Pinellas Virtual School, the district’s online school for kindergarten through 12th grade, and St. Petersburg Collegiate High earned “nationally recognized” mentions for their scores.
The A-graded Palm Harbor University school is accustomed to receiving national recognition for its academic programs, which has led to high enrollment there. To accommodate its almost 2,500 students, Palm Harbor is adding 38 classrooms, eliminating the need for portables. The $13 million project could be completed by June.
About 80 percent of last year’s senior class qualified for Florida Bright Futures college scholarships, and the school consistently scores in the top 1 percent of schools on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
Palm Harbor isn’t the only Pinellas school that earned national recognition this school year. The newest rankings by the Daily Beast list Tarpon Springs High School as 651st this year for college readiness based on high graduation rates and scores on the SAT or ACT college entrance exams.