Most Viewed Stories
More Yuma schools making the grade
District nameLetter grades 2012Letter grades 2013
Antelope Union High School DistrictCC
Carpe Diem Collegiate High SchoolBB
Crane Elementary DistrictBB
Gadsden Elementary DistrictCB
Harvest Power Community Development Group, Inc.BB
Hyder Elementary DistrictAA
Juniper Tree AcademyAA
Mohawk Valley Elementary DistrictCC
Somerton Elementary DistrictBC
Wellton Elementary DistrictCB
Yuma Elementary DistrictCB
Yuma Union High School DistrictCC
Editor's note: This is the second story in a series looking at A-F letter grades released by the Arizona Department of Education on Aug. 1. The first story ran in Friday's edition of the Yuma Sun to see how Yuma schools fared on the AIMS test.
According to a recent release by the Arizona Department of Education, the state saw a jump in the amount of schools receiving an A letter grade, up by 60 campuses. Arizona also had a decrease in the number of schools receiving a B, C or D.
Yuma's schools surpassed the state in the amount of As and Bs received by five percent and had fewer schools with C and D ratings by eight percent.
“The majority of Arizona schools are doing quite well,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal. “Arizona's schools are improving. In fact, we found over 300 schools improved a letter grade over last year.”
In Yuma, 12 schools were awarded an A letter grade, while 27 received a B, 13 received a C and five were given a D.
The A-F Accountability Grades are given to schools based on the weighting of student performance on the Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) tests and student academic growth from year to year, along with additional points awarded for higher rates of English language learners classified as being proficient in English, and reductions in dropout rates. Schools as well as districts as a whole each receive a report card with a grade that reflects the criteria.
Pearl Chang Esau, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona, said that over the past three years Yuma schools have made significant gains, but there's still room for more improvements.
She said that in 2011, only 45 percent of schools earned a grade of an A or B. Now, about 68 percent of Yuma schools have achieved that distinction.
“Yuma district and charter schools should celebrate this accomplishment and the work of their educators throughout the county. However, this accomplishment doesn't mean that more work doesn't need to be done. While schools in Yuma County have seen a lot of improvement, there is also a cause for concern,” said Esau. “Approximately one-third of Yuma County schools have a grade of a C or lower. These schools serve approximately 11,000 students throughout Yuma County. This is a great opportunity for the parents, community leaders and educators in Yuma to come together and support their schools.”
In the Gadsden Elementary School District, Superintendent Raymond Aguilera said that they saw a notable gain in letter grades with Ed Pastor Elementary maintaining their A grade and Desert View Elementary and Gadsden Elementary both moving up from a B to an A. Also, he said, Arizona Desert Elementary, Cesar Chavez Elementary and Southwest Jr. High all moved up from a C to a B.
He attributed the improvements to efforts of school staff and teachers as well as the students. Aguilera added that they haven't really changed anything, but are just improving the quality of what they were already doing.
“It's not a different focus, it's just a continued focus,” he said. “We're not switching programs, we're simply refining what we're doing; we're beyond looking for a silver bullet and are just focused on teaching and learning.”
Aguilera said that between district professional development, consultants and training through Arizona State University - they're finally starting to see results.
At AmeriSchools Academy-South their score jumped two letter grades from a C to an A, and at AmeriSchools Academy-North they moved up from a B to an A.
South campus Principal Ashley Fox said that after receiving a C last year, they knew that they had a big job ahead of them in getting their students up to where they needed to be.
“We had staff that came in on Saturdays, tutoring students before and after school, the parents were very dedicated to make sure their child attended the afterschool tutoring programs and participated as necessary.”
North campus principal William Wachunas agreed and said that at the beginning of the school year they both made a point to breakdown all the data they had and identify which students needed help and in which areas.
“We made sure they received appropriate instruction, appropriate interventions, extra help as much as we possibly could to make sure that they had every opportunity to be successful,” he said.
In Yuma Elementary School District 1, Alice Byrne Elementary maintained their A grade, Price School rose from a D to an A and Ron Watson Middle also saw a boost from a C to an A.
Duane Sheppard, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said that in addition to those scores, their district overall saw significant advances with all schools either moving up or staying at the same letter grade with only one exception.
“Best of all, that I'm really excited about, is that our district went up a grade; we are B district. And that was our goal, we wanted to move up from a C to a B. And when you're moving 10,000 kids up from a C to a B – that's a big task,” he said.
In the Crane Elementary School District, Salida Del Sol also moved up from a B to an A and Mesquite Elementary maintained their A.
Additionally, Dateland Elementary and Desert View Academy schools kept their A grades.
Somerton Elementary School District also saw some progress in their letter grades, as Desert Sonora and Orange Grove elementary schools both went up from a C to a B and Tierra Del Sol Elementary maintained their B score.
“I'm extremely proud of the hard work and dedication our Somerton staff has shown over the last year in student achievement growth,” said superintendent Frank Reed.
Lastly, Yuma Union High School District saw some increases in grades with San Luis and Gila Ridge high schools moving up to a B from a C.
“We didn't have enough improvement to get to that B rating as a district, but districtwide we're pleased with the progress we're making,” said Associate Superintendent James Sheldahl. “Our teachers are really focusing and all this in the midst of implementing a new curriculum and a new focus through Ready Now Yuma.”
He said that at Vista Alternative, although they received a D, it's also important to note that it is difficult to track students in alternative schools because every student has different needs and kids are generally only there for part of the year. This is the first year that alternative schools have been given a letter grade from the state.
“Letter grades are an evaluative concept that's there to provide information to the public, but we know that we're taking steps on a daily basis to do what's best for kids and to enhance student learning and make sure that every kid will be successful in college and careers when they graduate. So we don't necessarily let this process drive what we do,” Sheldahl concluded.
Visit www.azed.gov/research-evaluation/a-f-accountability/ for a complete list of A-F Letter Grades.