Bartow schools consistently rank as some of the best. Bartow’s International Baccalaureate program is nationally ranked by US News & World Report. Bartow IB students have ranked first in the world in passing their advance placement (AP) exams. In addition, among schools with fewer than 500 students, Bartow IB was recognized by the College Board, the company that oversees AP testing, as having the strongest AP English and AP World History courses in the world.

Summerlin Academy is a charter school on the Bartow High School campus: a college preparatory honors program, “built on principles of scholarship, leadership and citizenship,” with military-style discipline. Accepting both male and female students, Summerlin Academy is a four-year program that offers three curriculum tracks: math and engineering, with an array of higher math courses and four years of engineering classes; science and medicine, with advanced science courses including biotechnology and genetics; and English and social science, with advanced courses in reading, writing, history, government, economics, psychology, sociology, ethics and philosophy. Students are required to take four years of foreign language: either four years of one language or two years each of Spanish and German. The school also offers one-year “survey courses” in Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French, and Latin. Physical education courses include self-defense for women, tae kwon do or judo, boxing, scuba diving, equestrian courses, and fencing. The character development program emphasizes honor and integrity education, social etiquette, manners and civility, and community involvement.

A part of Bartow High School, the International Baccalaureate program And Summerlin Academy provides a challenging academic environment for exceptional students. Known as the “Home of Champions,” with both successful athletic and academic programs, Bartow High School offers a wide range of extracurricular activities including band, drama, chorus, as well as clubs and other programs.

      Bartow’s schools have within them career academies. Career academies are small, personalized learning communities. Students enter the academy through a voluntary process, they must apply and be accepted with parental knowledge and support. A career academy involves teachers from different subjects working together as a team.

One of the eight career academies offered by Bartow High School is the BHS Future Educators Academy, which has earned recognition as a Model Academy from the National Career Academy Coalition. The school and academy received Model Recognition status, the highest rating conferred by NCAC. Academy lead teacher Nikki Morse says “teaching the Future Educators Academy has been a wonderful experience. One of the best parts about this year was seeing my students work together to earn our national accreditation. I am so proud of their dedication to becoming a Model Academy.” Other academies include Academy of Design, Criminal Justice Academy, Culinary Academy, Fine Arts Academy, iGrow Ag Academy, Law Academy and Medical and Fire Academy.

Rounding out Bartow area schools are seven public elementary schools, three private elementary schools and three middle schools. Bartow Elementary Academy and Union Academy are magnet schools with students selected by an application process. Both are consistently ranked tops in the state. Enrichment activities include foreign language studies, art, science, theater performances and field trips.

Staff teams who often share common planning time, work together to implement the key features of the academy and provide students with training in the career field. Students may be grouped together for several periods every day with a core group of teachers. This promotes a family-like atmosphere and results in close student-teacher ties.

Public Schools fall under the Polk County School Board made up of seven elected members, each from a separate district and elected county-wide for four-year terms. The Board adopts rules and regulations to supplement those of the State Department of Education, establishes a school calendar each year and approves an annual budget. The Superintendent of Schools is appointed by the Board. For more information, contact the School Board at 863-534-0500, or visit its website at

Opportunities for advanced education are within easy driving distance of Bartow. The area has two vocational schools as well as eight colleges and universities.