Arizona schools maintain academic performances - East Valley Tribune: News

Arizona schools maintain academic performances

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Posted: Tuesday, October 7, 2008 5:34 pm | Updated: 9:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Arizona's public schools have kept up their academic performance from last year, according to the state's method for evaluating student achievement.

Check out the academic performance label for your school.

The Arizona Learns labels released today show schools remained statistically consistent in their achievement from 2007 to 2008, with 17 percent of schools reaching the highest level of "excelling."

2008 labels: This year, 1,875 Arizona schools were evaluated and put into the following catergories, SOURCE: Arizona Department of Education

By comparison, about 8 percent of schools were at the lowest, "underachieving" level.

"The proportions we have are really pretty good," said Superintendent of Instruction Tom Horne about the number of schools at each achievement level, adding that while state officials tweak the system each year, he believes they now have a good way to measure achievement. "If we labeled all schools excelling, the system would lose credibility."

Horne has touted Arizona's system as being "far superior" to the federal system, No Child Left Behind, where, "if a school performs on 252 measures and fails one, the whole school fails."

"The one that we have is a much fairer system," he said.

To determine Arizona Learns labels, the state uses a formula at each school that considers AIMS test scores, attendance rates, the previous year's label, student growth during the past three years and whether a school made "adequate yearly progress" under federal law. The state also considers the Measure of Academic Progress, which looks at academic growth for each student from one year to the next.

In the East Valley, schools generally earned the same label as last year with a few schools gaining or losing a level.

The Chandler district had 24 excelling schools, while two schools, Galveston and Erie, fell from performing to underperforming. Schools in their first year labeled "underperforming" are required to create and implement school improvement plans to raise student achievement.

In the Tempe Elementary School District, two schools, Fees and Gililland middle schools, which were labeled as underperforming last year, gained ground and are now performing.

Tempe Superintendent Arthur Tate said the new labels validate the hard work done by the students, faculty, principals and district staff over the last year.

"Underperforming is a label no one wants," he said. "We don't like how it sounds, and we don't like what indicates."

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