Editor’s note: The Yuma Sun is rerunning this story, which appeared on Page A1 on Tuesday, because it included an incorrect headline and omitted the school’s letter grades.
This story is one in a series of six looking at how Yuma County school districts performed on the Arizona State Board of Education’s A-F letter grades. This story examines Yuma Union High School District schools.
Each year at the direction of the Arizona Department of Education, the Arizona State Board of Education releases the A-F letter grades of the previous school year.
Released statewide on Nov. 1, the 2018-2019 letter grades are an annual academic achievement profile that measures student academic growth; proficiency in English language arts, math and science, proficiency and academic growth of English Language Learners; for elementary students, indicators of readiness for success in high school; for high school students, indicators of readiness for success in a career or higher education; and high school gradation rates.
Cibola and Gila Ridge High Schools were the district’s highest performing schools with a ‘B’ overall, with Gila Ridge’s academic performance increasing by a full letter grade. San Luis High School, earning a ‘C’ alongside Kofa and Vista High Schools, also ascended to a new height on the letter grade scale in the 2018-2019 academic year.
According to district officials, this was not surprising – YUHSD Data Associate Jesus Garcia had worked with principals and superintendents to forecast where the grades would be weeks before they were publicly released by the ABSE. In fact, before the cut scores were even determined, Garcia had already used two different formulas with potential cut scores to give principals an idea of how their schools would fare in the public report.
The data also indicated to district officials that Gila Ridge and San Luis were not the only campuses that experienced an improvement in their academic performance.
“If we looked at scores from previous years’ letter grades to this year’s, all of our campuses were making positive ascension,” Chief Communications Officer Eric Patten said. “There was growth across the board. Yuma High’s ‘C’ was a much stronger ‘C’ this year, (and) Kofa was pushing toward a ‘B’ as well.”
However, according to Patten, letter grades are only one piece of the puzzle.
With some of the lowest dropout and highest graduation rates in the state as well as the schools’ personalized learning strategies and other areas of focus such as AVID, the district provides opportunities for students to excel beyond testing preparation and final scores.
“The nuts and bolts of what the district is about are the opportunities that are being provided to keep students in school and thriving in school, especially for that next step when they move into post-secondary education or the military or their career,” Patten said. “If there were district scores available, those would be things we could hang our hat on.”
According to Associate Superintendent Lisa Anderson, the district’s intention moving forward is to use the available data to continue aligning the work being done within the district and its individual campuses with goals that they’ve collectively set.
“This data helps to validate the work within the goals,” Anderson said. “Education is a continuous improvement – it’s not about running a marathon and (when) you get to a certain point you stop. You’re always evaluating the work and using the data to evaluate the goals that we set.”
HOW YUHSD SCHOOLS FARED
• Cibola: B
• Gila Ridge: B
• Kofa: C
• San Luis: C
• Vista: C
• Yuma Union: C