School districts across the East Valley educated their students at a rate above the state standards according to information released by the Arizona Department of Education on Monday afternoon.
School districts serving Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Gilbert all earned at least a “B” grade from the state in its annual A-F letter grade ratings, which were released in tandem with the 2014 Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards, or AIMS, test. This is the fourth year the state has released letter grades; it had previously used a system called AZ LEARNS demarcating results with descriptions like “performing” and “performing plus.”
Tempe Union High School District, Gilbert Public Schools, Higley Unified School District, Kyrene School District and Chandler Unified School District all received “A” grades. Mesa Public Schools and Tempe Elementary School District each received “B” grades.
“Achievement related to Arizona LEARNS is a high priority for us,” said Chandler Unified spokesperson Terry Locke. “It is embodied in our governing board’s Journey 2020 plan, which helps our schools focus on achievement. We’re very pleased that the hard work of teachers, principals, students and parents paid off again this year.”
The state Department of Education determines the grades through a point system in which districts and individual schools are rated on several categories. Those categories encompass the percentage of students who meet or exceed AIMS standards, English Language Learners language proficiency, improvement among a school’s or district’s lowest-performing students and long-term student improvement. High schools are rated by their annual graduation rate and dropout rate as well.
Tempe Union High School District had all six of its schools earn an “A” grade. Three of the schools — Corona del Sol, Desert Vista and McClintock — have received the mark for all four years, while Mountain Pointe and Tempe High made it for the second straight year. This year was the first time Marcos de Niza received the top grade and joined what Superintendent Kenneth Baca called “club ‘A.’”
“So now the challenge for all of our schools is how we maintain it,” Baca said.
Higley Unified had all 12 of its schools earn “A” grades as well, including the two middle schools — Cooley and Sossaman — that opened for the 2013-14 school year. The district’s kindergarten-through-grade-eight campuses have all earned an “A” grade since 2012, but this marked the first time Higley High School earned an “A,” while Williams Field High School bounced back after receiving a “B” in 2013.
The East Valley also had three schools — Arizona College Prep-Oakland Campus, which finished third, Gilbert Classical Academy and Self Development Charter School in Mesa — finish in the top 10. Sandy Lundberg, who is Chandler Unified’s director of curriculum and former principal at College Prep, attributed the school’s success to “good teachers and kids who want to work hard.”
“It’s overwhelming and exciting and awesome at the same time,” said College Prep teacher Ashley French.
Visit https://azreportcards.com/ to search the state's letter grade ratings.
Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @EricMungenast