Tue, April 07

Editorial: Test scores speak highly of small school education

It seems like forever here in the Verde Valley there has been this ongoing debate about merging our school systems into a single unified school district.

In recent years, the debate has centered on the Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union districts. Going back further, it also included the Clarkdale-Jerome School District.

To a lesser degree, there’s also been talk over the years about a merger between the single-school Beaver Creek District with the Camp Verde Unified School District.

In all these debates, proponents of unification/consolidation of school districts hold firm to the belief that there is some benefit in merging all our schools under a single umbrella of administration. They also tout the educational benefits of a coordinated curriculum as students advance from the elementary grades to middle school and on to high school.

This past week, however, the results of the statewide AIMS testing among Verde Valley eighth-grade classes makes a good point that bigger is not necessary better when it comes to education.

Across the board on the AIMS math, reading and science eighth-grade test scores, tiny Clarkdale-Jerome School was clearly the cream of the crop in the Verde Valley. In all three testing categories, Clarkdale-Jerome was head and shoulders above the other eighth graders in the Verde Valley. Equally interesting is the fact that Beaver Creek eighth graders – again, students who come from a one-school district system – also topped their Camp Verde and Cottonwood-Oak Creek counterparts in the math and science test scores, but did not quite measure up in the reading portion.

If past history is any indication, the Verde Valley school district consolidation/unification issue will be before us again in the next five to seven years. When it does, we’ll once again hear the litany of reasons why a single consolidated school district is the way to go.

Unification opponents may want to hold on to these latest AIMS scores when those arguments arise.

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