School districts fault laws for failures - East Valley Tribune: News

School districts fault laws for failures

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Posted: Wednesday, September 5, 2007 1:29 am | Updated: 6:40 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

School district administrators in the East Valley are blaming a contradiction in education laws for a high number of schools failing to make “adequate yearly progress” under the federal No Child Left Behind requirement.

Learn more about the federal No Child Left Behind law at

Read more about how Arizona’s schools perform at

In a report being released today, 36 percent of schools in Mesa and Gilbert school districts, 44 percent in Apache Junction, and 26 percent in Chandler failed to progress under the federal guidelines. Statewide, 28 percent of schools failed.

Most of the failing East Valley schools did so because adequate yearly progress is determined using the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards , district officials said.

The problem with that, officials said, is federal disability laws require special education students to be tested using accommodations such as calculators. But students using accommodations don’t count as having been tested under No Child Left Behind, which means a subgroup for a school fails to make progress — and in turn, causes the whole school to fail.

Any subgroup — such as gender or ethnicity — that doesn’t have at least 95 percent of students test, or doesn’t make progress in some other way, fails.

Mesa’s Smith Junior High, for example, had one fewer special education student tested this year than they needed to make the 95 percent target.

“They made all the other goals; it was just because they had 94 instead of 95 percent tested that they didn’t make (adequate yearly progress),” said Joe O’Reilly, the Mesa district’s executive director for student achievement support. “It wasn’t for academics.

“They tested 501 out of 508 (seventh-grade) students. There were a couple who were sick, but there were also about four special education students who took it with nonstandard accommodations,” he said. “(Accommodations) are what pushed them over the edge.”

For the same reason, 14 of Gilbert’s 39 schools did not meet the progress requirements this year — most of which are highly performing or excelling under the state’s labels.

Gilbert schools Superintendent Brad Barrett said it’s hard for parents to understand why the district has so many high-ranking schools that aren’t making progress.

Ten of the 15 schools that didn’t make progress in the Paradise Valley Unified School District were deficient in the number of special education students who were tested.

In Chandler, one elementary school didn’t make adequate yearly progress because third-grade students in the low socioeconomic subgroup did not make enough progress. The other eight schools — all junior high and high schools — didn’t pass because they allowed accommodations.

“All other measures were met or exceeded,” district spokesman Terry Locke said. “The most important thing is every other student achievement measure was met by all the schools across the board.”

State schools Superintendent Tom Horne said parents of students at schools listed as failing to achieve annual progress should not be concerned. He said the system used by federal officials is “irrational” and may not reflect how well students are doing overall.

“There are a total of 253 ways to fail,” he said. “If you succeed spectacularly with 252 and you fall short on one, the whole school fails.”

Horne has filed suit to force the U.S. Department of Education to change its rules.

But a federal judge threw out the claim, saying the state first has to file an appeal to the Education Department. Horne said he has done that but has yet to get a response.

The federal law requires all students to be proficient in math and reading no later than the 2013-14 school year. Each school is measured on its own starting point from 2002 to determine if it is making adequate progress.

Schools that are repeat offenders face a number of changes.

A school that hasn’t made adequate progress for two years must make supplemental education services available for low-income students.

A third year of problems requires schools to choose from several options, ranging from extending the school year to replacing the staff responsible for the continued failure.

If problems persist for a fourth year, that can lead to a state takeover of the school, replacing the principal and staff or contracting with a private firm to manage the school.

Tribune reporters Andrea Falkenhagen and Amanda Keim, and Capitol Media Services contributed to this report.

East Valley Schools that did not make Adequate Yearly Progress:

Apache Junction Unified School District:

Apache Junction High School

Gold Canyon Elementary School

Mountain Shadows Education Center

Thunder Mountain Middle School

Chandler Unified School District:

John M. Andersen Junior High School

Basha High School

Bogle Junior High School

Chandler High School

Galveston Elementary School

Hamilton High School

Willie & Coy Payne Junior High

Santan Junior High School

Willis Junior High School

Cave Creek Unified School District:


Coolidge Unified School District:

West Elementary School

HoHoKam Elementary School

Coolidge High School

Coolidge High School Success Center

San Tan Heights Elementary School

Florence Unified School District:

Florence High School

Walker Butte K-8

Fountain Hills Unified School District:


Gilbert Unified School District:

Desert Ridge Junior High School

Gilbert Elementary School

Gilbert High School

Gilbert Junior High School

Gilbert Learning Center

GPS Junior High Learning Center

Harris Elementary School

Highland High School

Highland Junior High School

Mesquite High School

Mesquite Junior High School

South Valley Junior High

Towne Meadows Elementary School

Higley Unified School District:

Cortina Elementary School

J.O. Combs Unified School District:

Kathryn Sue Simonton Elementary School

Kyrene Elementary School District:

Akimel A-Al Middle School

Centennial Middle School

Kyrene Middle School

Lomas School

Norte School

Paloma School

Pueblo Middle School

Mesa Unified School District:

Brimhall Junior High School

Carson Junior High School

Dobson High School

Eagleridge Enrichment Program

East Valley Academy

Hale Elementary School

Hendrix Junior High School

Keller Elementary School

Kino Junior High School

Longfellow Elementary School

Lowell Elementary School

Mesa Distance Learning Program

McKellips Learning Center

Mesa Junior High School

Mesa High School

Mountain View High School

Patterson Elementary

Porter Elementary School

Powell Junior High School

Power Learning Center

Red Mountain High School

Riverview High School

Rhodes Junior High School


Skyline High School

Smith Junior High School

Sousa Elementary School

Stapley Junior High School

Superstition High School

Taylor Junior High School

Westwood High School

Paradise Valley Unified School District:

Campo Bello Elementary School

Eagle Ridge Elementary School

Echo Mountain Intermediate School

Explorer Middle School

Greenway Middle School

Horizon High School

Larkspur Elementary School

Mountain Trail Middle School

North Canyon High School

Palomino Intermediate School

Polaris High School

Prospect School

Shadow Mountain High School

Shea Middle School

Vista Verde Middle School

Queen Creek Unified School District:


Scottsdale Unified School District:

Supai Middle School

Tempe Elementary School District:

Connolly Middle School

Fees Middle School

Gililland Middle School

McKemy Middle School

Tempe Union High School District:


East Valley Charter Schools:

Academy with Community Partners, Mesa

Akimel O’Otham Pee Posh, Coolidge

Apache Trail High School, Apache Junction

Avalon Elementary, Apache Junction

Crittenton Youth Academy, Phoenix

D.W. Higgins Institute, Tempe

East Valley High School, Mesa

El Dorado High School, Chandler

Excalibur Charter High School, Apache Junction

Franklin Arts Academies - Gold Campus, Mesa

Franklin Arts Academies - Liberty Campus, Mesa

International Commerce Institute, Tempe

Intelli-School, Paradise Valley

Leading Edge Academy, Gilbert

Leading Edge Academy, Queen Creek

Learning Crossroads Basic Academy, Tempe

Legacy Elementary School, Mesa

Montessori Education Centre Charter School, Mesa

Montezuma Middle School, Tempe

New Horizon School for the Performing Arts, Mesa

New Samaritan High School, Mesa

Pinnacle Virtual High School, Tempe

Pinnacle High School, Casa Grande

Pinnacle Charter High School, Chandler

Salt River High School, Scottsdale

Sequoia Choice School Arizona Distance Learning, Mesa

Skyline Technical High School, Ahwatukee Foothills

Solon Academy of Arts and Sciences, Chandler

Sonoran Desert School, Mesa

Tempe Accelerated School, Tempe

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