By Linda Kor
The Arizona Department of Education has issued the 2012 A through F grades for schools throughout the state, and several schools in the area have shown improvement over the grades they received last year.
In the Winslow School District, results show that Washington Elementary, Jefferson Elementary and Bonnie Brennan Elementary schools all received Bs, while Winslow Junior High School and Winslow High School received Cs. This moved Jefferson up a grade from last year, with Bonnie Brennan new to the grading system since, this is its first year operating as a magnet elementary school.
Holbrook School District showed improvement at Hulet Elementary School, which moved up to an A grade from a B grade as the only elementary school in the area to receive the highest marks. Holbrook High School, Park Elementary School and Indian Wells Elementary Schools received Cs this year, and Holbrook Junior High School dropped from a C to a D. Park School did not receive a grade last year as the ADE did not grade K-2 schools in 2011.
The Joseph City School District was graded for the first time this year since the system did not report grades for schools with enrollment less than 1,000 students last year. Joseph City Junior/Senior High School made an excellent start, receiving the only A grade for junior high or high schools in the area. Joseph City Elementary School received a C.
The Snowflake School District showed improvement in most every school, with Snowflake High School, Snowflake Junior High School, Snowflake Intermediate School, and Taylor Elementary School moving up to Bs from Cs last year. Highland Primary and Taylor Intermediate schools also received B grades, the same grade they received last year.
According to the ADE, the A-F grading system is a tool parents can use to help decide if a school is provid-ing an educational environment that best meets the needs of their child. The system also allows the schools to determine their strengths and areas that are in need of improvement.
In evaluating schools for the grading system, each school is equally evaluated both on how many of its stu-dents are passing the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) tests each year and how much its stu-dents academically grow each year. Other factors such as dropout rate, graduation rate and English language learner reclassification rate are taken into consideration, when applicable.
Schools receive points for each of the areas mentioned above similar to the system used to assess each stu-dent’s grades.
An “A” school demonstrates an excellent level of performance, earning points equal to a school that has 90 percent of students passing AIMS and achieves greater academic growth with its population of students than most schools.
“B” schools demonstrate an above average level of performance, earning points equal to a school that has 70 percent of students passing AIMS, and generally achieves typical or greater academic growth with its popula-tion of students than most schools.
“C” schools demonstrate an average level of performance, with “C” schools earning points equal to a school that has 50 percent of students passing AIMS and generally achieves typical academic growth with its popula-tion of students as most schools.
“D” schools demonstrate a below average level of performance, with fewer points than a school that has 50 percent of students passing AIMS, and does not achieve typical or greater academic growth with its population of students than most schools.
“F” schools are those that score as a “D” school for three consecutive years. “F” schools are placed in school improvement by the Arizona Department of Education.
As the only school in the area that showed a decline in its grade, Holbrook Junior High School is taking measures to improve the outcome of AIMS testing this year and utilizing programs to help students achieve success. Superintendent Dr. Robbie Koerperich has taken over the helm as principal of the school this year and already has these measures for improvement in place. “As part of our strategy for the junior high, we are im-plementing Beyond Textbooks, the curriculum used by Vale School District, which is the top school district in the state,” he explained.
According to Koerperich, the culture at the junior high level has a very big social factor, not just academic. Issues such as bullying, home life, boyfriends or girlfriends have a strong impact on the students’ daily lives. To assist students and teachers in coping with these issues the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program has also been implemented at the school. The program consists of multiple components to help teachers define expectations, focus on positive behaviors, and provide support and discipline when needed.
When asked if the broad demographics of the district make for a level playing field when comparing grades against other schools in the area, Koerperich noted, “We live in a microcosm of the world; it’s never a level playing field. We need to prepare our students to compete for the jobs that will be out there, good, high paying jobs, regardless of where they’re coming from.”
By Linda Kor