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Mon, March 30

Mingus makes case for better school grade from state
High school continues focus on ‘improvement and student success’

Mingus Union High School Assistant Principal Genie Gee: “I think the intention of the grading system is good; now we just need to make sure that it’s a valid process.” (Photo by Bill Helm)

Mingus Union High School Assistant Principal Genie Gee: “I think the intention of the grading system is good; now we just need to make sure that it’s a valid process.” (Photo by Bill Helm)

COTTONWOOD – Of the nearly 250 schools to appeal its recent letter grade, only one came from the Verde Valley.

When the Arizona State Board of Education decided Monday to reevaluate its new system for grading schools, Genie Gee said that her school “will continue to focus our efforts in [the] direction [of] improvement and student success.”

“I’m thankful that the State Board is reviewing the grading system and working toward improvement,” said Gee, one of two assistant principals at Mingus Union High School. “That’s all we can do as well.”

Though Mingus Union’s preliminary grade was one percentage point from a B, Gee said she doesn’t want to “spend a lot of time agonizing over our letter grade.”

“But at the same time, we want to be sure that the calculation was a true representation of Mingus Union High School,” Gee said. “We continue to operate and set goals with the data we have been provided, but we are also following the revision of the A-F letter grade process with great interest.”

How do you feel about the state board’s grading system?

“I think the intention of the grading system is good; now we just need to make sure that it’s a valid process. Each school is unique and represents the community in which it is situated. Schools in lower-income areas have considerations that a school in an affluent area may not have – and vice versa.”

What do you think about the grade that Mingus Union received from the state’s Board of Education?

“When I discussed our A-F letter grade with our faculty, I explained that there were many other schools in Arizona feeling the gravity of receiving a letter grade they didn’t expect.   

“I value the information provided by the ranking, but in our preliminary review of data, some of our AzMERIT information didn’t appear to be accurate.

“We were also concerned about the College and Career Readiness Index and the lack of state guidance provided for each calculation; there was some ambiguity in interpretation.”

How does Mingus Union focus on improvement and student success?

“At Mingus, we look at how we are serving our students in a number of ways. Are we providing activities, experiences, and extra-curricular opportunities to develop the whole child? Do we have a well-rounded curriculum that supports student growth at all levels? Are we offering college prep and career-focused opportunities for all students? Are we providing appropriate support for our special needs populations? And at the same time, are we providing all of these things in a safe and supportive learning environment? 

“It’s really quite a bit to think about and the current letter grade could never measure all of those important qualities, but I do think it’s important to consider them when determining the quality of a school.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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