Four of Gilbert’s elementary schools leaped from "performing" to "excelling" in one year. Finley Farms, Islands, Playa del Rey and Towne Meadows elementary schools all made large gains in the percentage of students who excelled on Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards test last year, earning them the top label in a state report released Thursday.
Overall, 17 of Gilbert’s 37 schools achieved the state’s "excelling" status, up from eight last year. The state added a new label called "performing plus" this year to distinguish among the state many performing schools — but the Gilbert foursome skipped the new designation to grab the state’s highest rank.
"I think it is a real testament to the entire staff really stepping up to bat and under the implications of focusing on each and every child whether within the classroom or within their schools," said Helen Hollands, Gilbert Unified School District governing board president.
Towne Meadows thirdgrade teacher Sherry Ruttinger said the school has provided more challenging curriculum and support for students at all levels.
"It takes a good knowledge of standards and objectives," she said. "It takes an understanding of each child’s development levels."
The labels are part of the Arizona Learns program and are separate from federal labels issued under the No Child Left Behind Act.