FLORENCE — Boasting the single biggest gain in the Shoals area, Harlan Elementary School jumped 11 points from a 75 to an 86 on this year's state report card.

It was the highlight of the Florence district's gains this year. 

Forest Hills Elementary had the highest score in the district with a 96, the same as last year.

Florence Middle School also increased two points this year from an 84 to an 86. Other schools either stayed the same or dropped.

Both Florence High School and Florence Freshman Center were down five points this year. Florence High school dropped to an 84, and FFC to an 85.

Harlan Elementary Principal Thomas Casteel said he's proud of his school's achievement. "Now we have to maintain and grow," he said.

Casteel said the school's gains were passion-driven and he, along with Assistant Principal Jill Edwards and instructional partner Melanie Harris, set their sites on building stronger relationships within the school and with parents.

"We took a very targeted approach, zeroing in on those gaps and began pulling all the resources we could," he said. "We're trying to build a strong culture of learning here and we've done a lot of formative assessment. We're giving double and triple instruction to those kids that need it."

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