School overcomes challenge<br><i>Middle school gets ‘performing’ label</i>

Staff photo by Dean H. Borgwardt

CAMP VERDE Middle School Principal Mike Taylor and his staff turned the school's “under performing” label to a “performing” label.

The school turned around the Arizona Department of Education's (ADE) “underperforming” label to “performing.”

After the middle school was designated an under performing school by the state in October 2003, educators at the school devised strategies to address the deficient areas.

Out of the three major categories of state evaluation – academic achievement, the number of students tested and attendance – the middle school was deficient in academic achievement.

But the school's educators disagreed. They examined the situation and collected data from previous exams in reading, writing and math. Then the data was submitted as evidence to the state to substantiate the school's progress.

Camp Verde Middle School Principal Mike Taylor submitted a letter to the ADE requesting a label correctly identifying the middle school as performing, bolstered by data illustrating the school's academic achievement.

Taylor said he was surprised of the “underperforming” label and knew that something was amiss. ADE reviewed the schools data and agreed that Camp Verde Middle School should be assigned a “performing” school label.

"This is a very significant improvement for us, and we are hoping to make similar gains this year," Taylor said. "I was surprised at the label indicating under performing because I knew our school had been making progress all along."

Taylor said that 88 schools statewide appealed the most recent rating results and only 11 percent were accepted to change their performance labeling status.

The correct labeling of the middle school as “performing” reflects the hard work demonstrated by students, parents and staff.

A veteran educator of 25 years, Taylor said that he and his staff set a goal of 5 percent improvement across the board in the areas of reading, math and writing in addition to examination abilities improvement.

The fruit of their labors is that the school met and exceeded these goals by at least 5 percent of the state's standard level.

"We achieved 6 percent improvements in reading, 10 percent in math and 13 percent in writing and exceeded the state's standard," he said. "We're pleased."

He said that the ADE agreed that the progress made by the school was significant and, "We were classified as performing," he said.

Taylor said that educators identified specific academic areas and developed an improvement plan to assist students and attain goals to rectify the under performing label.

Superintendent Ron Maughan said that if a school fails to meet criteria established by the ADE and continues to be labeled as under performing, the state may send a task team to assist the school to overcome deficient areas. If this is ineffective, the administration may be restructured.

"Thanks to a dedicated staff and parent participation at home, all of Camp Verde's schools have been labeled as performing," he said.

Maughan said that in past years, the middle school met the academic achievement yearly progress benchmark and is concentrating on maintaining its level while trying not to succumb to the attendance problem plaguing the state's schools.

Maughan said that statewide, Arizona schools are suffering from excessive absenteeism and it is frustrating to educators.

In addition to interfering with student leaning, excessive absenteeism often means that more student support is need at home, he said.

"Nationally, Arizona schools are experiencing excessive absenteeism," Maughan said. "About 6 percent of students are absent from school for a number of reasons."

Taylor said that the Camp Verde Unified School District is hold parent night on Jan. 20 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. during basket ball games. For more information, call 567-3382.

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