SAN LUIS, Ariz. – Two San Luis schools were Yuma County’s top performing schools at the kindergarten through eighth grade level in the 2018-19 academic year, according to the letter grade system used by the state for measuring the effectiveness of Arizona classrooms.

Desert View Elementary School earned 88.78 out of a possible 100 points, the highest score among elementary, middle and junior high schools around the county, while Cesar Chavez Elementary School got 87.05 points.

Their scores earned both schools in the Gadsden Elementary School District A grades from the Arizona Department of Education under a formula weighted heavily on student scores on the AzMERIT assessment test and on the school’s year-by-year academic growth. 

The state Department of Education gave two other schools in the Gadsden district A grades – the Gadsden Elementary School, which scored 83.80 points, and Rio Colorado Elementary School, 83.52 points. 

Two campuses in the  Somerton Elementary School District had A ratings that placed them among 10 highest-scoring schools in the county – Valle del Encanto with a score of 84.67 and Tierra del Sol, 83.49.

Under the state’s A-F Accountability System, an A grade signifies excellence performance by a school, while a B means the school is highly performing. A C grade signifies the school is performing, and a D grade means it’s minimally performing. An F grade is given to failing schools.

The 2018-19 school year marked the fifth consecutive year Desert View has earned A’s in the various assessment methods used by the state to measure school academic performance.

“There are many factors that have to do with Desert View’s achievement and with the good grades of the other schools in the district – from the leadership of the principals, to how well the transportation service functions, to the work of each employee in the district,” Gadsden Superintendent Ray Aguilera said. “Sincerely speaking, it is through an effort by everyone.”

Somerton’s Tierra Del Sol earned its second A in as many years, and Somerton Superintendent Laura Noel said that thanks to its academic achievements, it is will receive $323,000 through Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s results-based funding program that gives bonuses to highly performing schools.

Tierra Del Sol, the first Somerton school to receive the additional money, will use the funds to cover any campus needs it identifies, such as purchase of equipment, funding of teaching programs or as bonuses for teachers.

Elsewhere in the Gadsden district, Southwest Jr. High earned a C grade, the same as the prior year, although its overall score was higher in 2018-19, 68.10.

Scores for three schools in the Gadsden district have not been released pending review by state education officials: Arizona Desert and Rio Colorado elementary schools and San Luis Middle School.

Elsewhere in the Somerton district, Orange Grove and Desert Sonora elementary schools received B’s with scores, respectively, of 79.85 and 78.91.

As in the previous year, Somerton Middle School received a C, but its overall score was higher in 2018-19. That score, Noel said, was second highest among middle or junior high schools around the county.

“For us that has made a huge difference in believing that we can do it,” she said. “When you get grades like a C or D, you begin to think you can’t do it. It was a huge effort for people to begin to believe that yes we can do it, that the children, the teachers and parents believe that they can.”

Noel said she’s confident that Somerton Middle can earn a B next year and that the Somerton schools that achieved B’s this year can obtain A’s.

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