By Kate Quesada

When the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) released its school grades and rankings recently, many schools throughout eastern Hillsborough County had reason to celebrate. But Colleen Bevis Elementary in FishHawk Ranch received extra credit, as it was named the number one elementary school in the county and number five in the state, with an A ranking for at least the 15th year in a row.

According to the FDOE, the goal of the rankings is to provide an easy way for parents and members of the public to understand how well schools are serving their students. Schools receive scores in up to 11 areas including achievement, based on results from the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) in English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science, learning gains and the maintaince of a focus on the students who need it the most. Bevis received 607 out of a possible 700 points, 96 percent of the students achieved a “3” or higher on a scale of 1-5 in the mathematics portion of the FSA and students in the school’s lowest quartile significantly improved their scores.

“To see fifth in the state, it just gives you chills to think how exciting it is that they were able to do that,” said Hillsborough County School District Area 5 Superintendent Dr. Michelle Fitzgerald.

According to the FDOE, the goal of the FSA is to measure student achievement in the critical subject areas. The test was designed with input from educators, district administrators, community leaders and members of the public. It was first administered in the spring of 2015.

Bevis Principal Melanie Cochrane and Assistant Principal Rebecca Thoms believe many factors are involved in the school’s success.

“So many things come together to make Bevis what it is,” said Cochrane. “But most importantly, everyone here puts their focus on the kids, not only the teachers and families, but our whole community.”

“We pride ourselves on good overall instruction,” said Thoms. “If we make sure our students learn in a way that they can apply throughout their lives, they will become successful people, not just successful test takers.”

Colleen Bevis Elementary School is located at 5720 Osprey Ridge Dr. in Lithia and can be reached at 740-4000. To see the list of school grades in Florida, visit

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.