<i>Judging labels</i><br>Yearly progress mixed in Valley schools

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TOM HORNE, the state's superintendent of public instruction, said parents should focus on labels and not the AYP reports.

The release of data included in the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report is required under federal law.

Four school districts in the Verde Valley passed the AYP criteria. Mingus Union School District, Clarkdale-Jerome School, Sedona-Oak Creek School District and Beaver Creek School all passed the Adequate Yearly Progress criteria.

The criteria includes the percentage of a district's students who are tested, the test's objective, the district's attendance rate and the district's graduation rate, if applicable.

Two Verde Valley school districts did not show adequate progress. Camp Verde Unified District fell short of the criteria by failing to test enough students. Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District also did not test a high enough percentage of students and also failed the test objective in one area.

Julie Larson, superintendent of Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, said the district's only sub group to fail to meet the test objective was the 8th grade Hispanics in math. "That one group kept the district from making Adequate Yearly Progress," Larson said.

She said the district obviously wants that sub group to do well, and, consequently, that gives the district a clear goal.

Sharyl Allen, superintendent of Mingus Union, said her school made the AYP because of an appeal. "We tested only 94 percent of freshmen, and there were not make-up days available," she said. The AYP criteria calls for 95 percent of students in each sub group to be tested.

"It's as simple as having the flu bug hit on the wrong day," Allen said. "We were very grateful that our appeal was accepted."

Clarkdale-Jerome Superintendent Kathleen Fleenor said her school had 97 percent of students qualify as making one year of growth. "We're very pleased with that," she said.

Fleenor said the district expected to pass AYP because of the school's success on AIMS and the Stanford 9 tests. "I would have been surprised if we hadn't," she said.

Horne cautioned parents to focus on the state system of labels for schools rather than on the AYP report. "We worked very hard to have a fair and accurate state system, and parents can tell how good their schools are by whether they received a label of under-performing, performing, highly performing, or excelling.

"In the AYP system, by contrast, a school could have outstanding test scores, and succeed in 143 out of 144 measures, but not make AYP because of falling short on only one measure," Horne said. "The state system, by contrast, is more comprehensive."

As an example, Horne pointed out one school district in the state where its schools received 13 excelling labels, 7 highly performing labels and 5 performing labels and still failed to pass AYP.

Horne said that example demonstrates why parents should focus on the state labels to determine how well their children's schools are performing.

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