Hillsborough County Public Schools celebrated record high graduation rates in 2018. Superintendent Jeff Eakins announced the results last month at East Bay High School in Gibsonton.

Hillsborough County high schools have a reason to celebrate this month. The school district recently announced that the graduation rate is currently at an all-time high with 85.8 percent of students graduating after their senior year.

According to Hillsborough County Public School’s (HCPS) Media Outreach representative Tanya Arja, the 2018 rate is 2.9 percentage points higher than the year before and 12.3 percentage points higher than in 2014.

“This increase in our graduation rate should be celebrated across our community,” said Arja, who explained that the 2018 increase amounts to 1,055 more students earning a high school diploma. “This highlights the determination of students and the dedication of teachers and staff who work with them every day.”

Brandon area schools played a role in the district’s success, with Bloomingdale High School raising its graduation rate six percentage points in five years to an impressive 96.1 percent and Brandon High School increasing its rate 11.3 percentage points over five years with 93.5 percent of students graduating in 2018.

Spoto High School in Riverview had the highest graduation rate increase in 2018, jumping nearly eight percentage points from 80.4 to 88.3 percent, and Newsome High School in Lithia has the highest graduation rate in the district at 98.6 percent.

“We are thrilled to see this significant leap to an all time high,” said HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins. “We are on target to meet our goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.”

Eakins, who became superintendent in 2014 when the rate was 76 percent, has made raising the graduation rate a key priority during his tenure because of the significant impact a high school diploma has on a student’s future earning potential. According to Arja, students with a diploma earn $380,000 more during their lifetime compared to those who do not graduate.

The district has also seen a significant rise in the number of minority students and students with disabilities achieving diplomas.

“We couldn’t have done this without our dedicated parents, staff and, of course, our amazing students,” said Eakins.

For more information on the graduation rates, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us or call 272-4000.

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.