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 www.ed.gov/nclb.
Read more about how Arizona’s schools perform at www.ade.az.gov/azlearns.
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
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
Porter Elementary School
Powell Junior High School
Power Learning Center
Red Mountain High School
Riverview High School
Rhodes Junior High School
S H A R P
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
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