VERDE VALLEY - The spring results of the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards were recently released, and the performance labels have been assigned to each school based on the AIMS scores. Labels are excelling, highly performing, performing plus, performing and underperforming.
Clarkdale-Jerome School maintained its label of "excelling," and Mingus Union High School dropped from "highly performing" to performing. There are reasons for both schools' labels.
"We're extremely thrilled that once again we made excelling status," said Kathleen Fleenor, superintendent of Clarkdale-Jerome School.
Fleenor explained why her school keeps getting the excelling label. "We go through and look closely at each child," she said. Those kids who need help go into a federally funded after-school tutoring program for one hour, twice a week.
"It's not just a homework program," Fleenor said. "It's teachers tutoring students that need help.
"I really think that is the difference."
The drop of status at MUHS didn't upset new superintendent Tim Foist. "I'm brand new," he said, "so the baseline of performing is fine."
Foist said he believes that three years of construction on campus finally caught up with everyone and took its toll. "Teachers and kids were so uprooted," he said. "Now that the dust is gone, we'll be back.
"I believe we'll be back to highly performing, and our goal is to reach excelling," Foist said.
In the entire Verde Valley, only two public schools besides Clarkdale-Jerome made the excelling status - Sedona Red Rock High School and Big Park Elementary School in the Sedona-Oak Creek School District. West Sedona Elementary School earned performing plus.
"We're very proud of that," said Sedona Superintendent Mike Aylstock. "For Big Park, this is their seventh year in a row for the excelling label."
Aylstock said that accomplishment for Big Park is very significant because it is harder to maintain the excelling status than it is to earn it in the first place.
Beaver Creek Elementary earned a performing label. "We're celebrating our status this year," said Superintendent Karin Ward.
Ward said her teachers and staff are dedicated to, and spend a great amount of time and effort, looking at student data all year. She said they look not only at the highest performing students but also at the lower performing kids.
Ward said the school's goal is always to take all of the students to their very best level.
Camp Verde School District has all schools at the performing level or better. Camp Verde Elementary earned performing plus, and Camp Verde High School and Camp Verde Middle School each earned a performing label. The district's alternative school also earned a performing label.
"Whenever you put a label on something it can be a very intimidating experience," said Stephen Rice, coordinator for the district's No Child Left Behind programs.
"We're very pleased," Rice said. "Performing is not a negative label."
Rice said the parents love the schools where their kids go, and they know their kids are learning.
"As far as our schools are concerned," Rice said, "we've been making the performance label the minimum."
Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District has all schools at or above the performing status. Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary earned a highly performing label. Tavasci Elementary, Oak Creek School and Cottonwood Middle School all earned performing plus labels. Cottonwood Elementary School earned performing status.
"I was very pleased with the results of our AIMS scores and our labels," said Superintendent Barbara U'Ren. "Our trend shows steady growth in reading scores for every grade level with the exception of grade three."
U'Ren said that is a challenge area for the district to evaluate the curriculum and instruction at that grade level.
She also said that over the years the district's growth in math has not been as consistent as they would like to see. "To address this," U'Ren said, "two years ago we adopted a new math textbook and increased our training in math. We are now starting to see greater growth in math."
U'Ren also pointed out that the district has made progress in three subgroups identified by the governing board as academic goals.
"Not only did our ELL (English Language Learners) children show an increase in reading achievement but all of our Hispanic children demonstrated a five-year trend of improvement in reading," U'Ren said.
She said that Title I children is another subgroup that has made great gains during the last few years in both reading and math.