Education Profile

The prosperity of our community depends on developing talent and an educated workforce well prepared to meet the competitive nature of an innovation based global economy. Marion County has a diverse economy that includes manufacturing, distribution, professional services, retail, as well as research, technology and ecotourism. Excellent educational options in both public and private schools provide our children a strong foundation for our future and a diversity of quality colleges, universities, technical and trade schools prepare a well-qualified workforce to meet a changing global economy.

Marion County Public Schools—Rising Above the Average

Three Marion County high schools were ranked in the “Best High School” listing compiled by U.S. News & World Report. Forest and West Port High schools respectively earned silver medals in the latest round comparing 21,000 charter, magnet, and public high schools nationwide. Only the top 22 percent made this year’s list, including 119 schools in Florida. (5/13/13)

In the spring of 2016, all seven of Marion County's mainstream public high schools made the “Most Challenging High School” list released by the Washington Post. The Challenge Index is designed to identify schools that have done the best job in persuading average students to take college-level courses and tests. Only nine percent of US high schools (1,900) made the list. 

For the third consecutive year, Marion County Schools recorded a higher a graduation rate than the state average (12/2014). Additionally, Marion County students beat state and national averages on this year’s Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, a standard college entrance exam. Results show Marion County students earned higher critical reading scores than state and national averages, and both higher math and writing scores than the state. Click here for SAT results. (10/09/12)

The vision of Marion County Public Schools is “Leading the State in Raising Student Performance.” Our schools have proven they are among the best in Florida with 76% receiving an “A” or “B” rating for educational performance. Marion County has 30 public elementary schools, eight middle schools and eight high schools. The Marion County School Board also oversees two combination schools (K-8 and 5-8), three charter schools, one exceptional student education school and one community technical and adult education center. Six of the high schools earned either an A or B in the state report cards (12/2014). 

Specialized Student Programs

Florida provides many ways for students to earn college credit for materials learned in high school, such as Advanced Placement, dual enrollment, credits by examination, AICE, and the International Baccalaureate Program. Most of these programs are available free or at minimal cost to students.

Marion County’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program conducts classes at Vanguard High School and Lake Weir High School. The IB program also exists at Oakcrest Elementary and Howard Middle School. Designed as a rigorous pre-university course of study, this program offers accelerated classes to meet the needs of highly-motivated secondary school students. The Engineering and Manufacturing Institute of Technology (EMIT) at Forest High School combines honors-level high school academics with three to four years of computer-assisted drafting in a state of-the-art facility.

Like the IB program, the Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) program is an international curriculum and examination program modeled after the British pre-college curriculum and “A-level” exams. Belleview and North Marion High Schools offer AICE courses and exams, with opportunities for college credit to students passing these exams. 

Marion Technical Institute (MTI) offers a unique program that combines practical career experience with classroom learning giving students an edge above employment competition. Working closely with Business Advisory Councils composed of local industry leaders, students will participate in work-based learning experiences and “hands-on” training activities while attending MTI. Students can finish their high school programs with career and college focused offerings through several technical academies: automotive technology, building sciences, business and finance, culinary arts, information technology, law, and production and design technology.

Several schools are also meeting the various special needs of students in our community including New Horizon Academy specializing in serving the educational needs of autistic children and Francis Marion Military Academy where the academic and social challenges facing today’s high school students are met with a challenging curriculum within the scope of a military leadership academy.

Public Schools Statistics - December 2014

  Number of Schools Number of Students Number of Teachers Student/Teacher Ratio
Elementary 30 18,679 1,421 (K-2) 20:1
(3-5) 24:1
Middle 8 8,061 484 (6-8) 24:1
High 8 11,817 699 27:1
(Core classes 9-12)
5 - 8 1 796 57  
6 - 12 1 155 27  
K - 8 1 1,077 78  
Total 49 42,376 2,687  

These numbers do not include charter schools, special centers, or alternative schools.

Private Schools

Approximately 30 faith-based and preparatory schools provide pre-K programs through12th grade and offer residents a variety of educational choices. The diversity of private school education can be seen in a partial list of the area’s schools: Ambleside School of Ocala, The Cornerstone School, Grace School, Redeemer Christian School, and Trinity Catholic High School

Technical and Adult Education

Marion Technical College (MTC) provides technical training and continued education giving people the opportunity to improve themselves and their ability to earn a living. MTC is committed to offering courses customized to training for business and industry so you can keep up with ever-expanding technologies and the need to compete in a global market place. Marion Technical College is the sole provider of the General Education Diploma (GED) and the adult High School Diploma in Marion County.

Higher Education

Marion County meets the needs of higher education through a variety of institutions offering bachelors, masters and doctorate degree programs.  Students can pursue their love of learning at one of the many accredited educational institutions: College of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Rasmussen College, Saint Leo University - Ocala Center, Taylor College or Webster University.

When it comes to meeting our growing needs for cutting-edge technology training, Marion County capitalizes on our location in the heart of the Florida High Tech Corridor. The Corridor has continually produced skilled tech graduates from three Corridor universities: the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida. Together these universities fulfill a mission to grow high tech industry and innovation through partnerships that support research, marketing, workforce and entrepreneurship. The Corridor's leading tech industries for jobs are aerospace, digital media and energy.

College of Central Florida

CF is a part of the Florida College System and offers bachelor and associate degree programs as well as a number of certificate programs. The College maintains multiple campuses throughout the region and maintains the internationally recognized Appleton Museum of Art. It is ranked No. 13 in the nation for affordability and has been designated as Military Friendly by Victory Media. The Patriot Men's Basketball team was the 2013 National Junior College Athletic Association champion and Women’s Softball team was the 2014 national runner-up!

Rasmussen College

Rasmussen’s Ocala campus offers Bachelor’s and Associate’s degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates in their six schools of study including Business, Nursing, Health Sciences, Justice, Design and Technology. The college has two campuses in Ocala and serves more than1200 students.

Post-Secondary Education

Schools Enrollment
CF University Center (Includes: Saint Leo University, UCF, UF, Florida State University, Capella University and Webster University) 903
College of Central Florida 15,318
Rasmussen College 1,200
Taylor College 258
University of Central Florida (UCF) - Orlando 56,337
University of Florida (UF) - Gainesville  49,827
University of South Florida (USF) - Tampa 47,646
Santa Fe College - Gainesville 17,630