WHITE MOUNTAINS — Nine area schools in six districts earned prestigious “A” grades from the Arizona Board of Education’s annual assessment of school performance for 2017-18. That’s up last year from only five area schools in four districts earning “A”’s from the Board.
Federal and state law require an A-F system to measure school performance, according to the Every Student Succeeds Act. A total of 14 states use A-F letter grades.
There are several measures used in the calculation of school grades including proficiency on the AzMERIT test, year-to-year student improvement, English language proficiency and growth and several other “indicators that an elementary student is ready for success in high school, and that high school students are ready for success in a career or higher education,” according to the Board’s website.
According to the Arizona Board of Education website, the grades “give parents a yardstick to compare schools.” School leaders also get a snapshot of where they are doing well and where they need to improve. The grading system also “creates an incentive for the constant improvement that parents, taxpayers and state leaders expect from our public schools.”
The Board directs the Arizona Department of Education to release A-F Letter Grades for the 2017-2018 school year by Oct. 5, 2018.
Here are how schools in Apache and Navajo counties measured up, according to the state system:
Alpine Elementary School, Joseph City Elementary and Capps Elementary in Heber/Overgaard all earned “A” grades.
Several junior high or intermediate grade schools earned “A’s” as well, with three out of the four from the Snowflake Unified District which also includes the town of Taylor. They are Snowflake Intermediate School, Snowflake Junior High School, Taylor Intermediate School. The fourth junior high/intermediate school to earn an “A” was St. Johns Middle School in the St. Johns Unified District.
Round Valley High School, Snowflake High School and St. Johns High School earned an “A” for the 9-12 model.
Overall, Snowflake Unified District held steady, with four district schools earning “A” grades – more than any other district in the two counties.
Chinle Elementary School and Tsaile Elementary School in Apache County and within the Navajo Nation earned a “B” grade. Concho Elementary School, George Washington Academy in Snowflake and Nikolaus Homestead Elementary and Vernon Elementary School also earned “B” grades. Bonnie Brennan School in the Winslow Unified District also earned a “B”.
Moving on to the junior high/intermediate category, Blue Ridge Junior High and Show Low Junior High earned “B’s” along with Red Mesa Junior High and Round Valley Middle School in Apache County.
High schools grades (9-12) that earned a “B” grade include Mogollon High School and Show Low High School.
Schools earning “C” grades appear to be a fair mix throughout 11 school districts.
Elementary and K-8 schools earning “C’s” include Blue Ridge Elementary School, Canyon de Chelly Elementary School, Many Farms Elementary School, Mesa View Elementary School, Indian Wells Elementary School, Round Valley Elementary School, Linden Elementary School, Cradleboard School, Sequoia Village School, Seven Mile School, Tsehootsooi Dine Bi’Olta School and Washington School.
Junior High or intermediate model schools earning “C’s” include Chinle Junior High School, Holbrook Junior High School, Joseph City Junior High School, Kayenta Middle School and Winslow Junior High School.
Blue Ridge High School, Ganado High School, Holbrook High School, Monument Valley High School, Red Mesa High School and Winslow High School also earned “C’s”.
D’s, F’s or No Rating
The most economically-disadvantaged schools in the region are on the Fort Apache Reservation, the Navajo Nation and a few other rural-area schools.
Jeddito School, Mogollon Junior High School, McNary Elementary School, Pinon Accelerated Middle School, Pinon Elementary School, Pinon High School, Round Rock Elementary School, Sanders Middle School, Alchesay High School, Whiteriver Elementary School, Tsenootsooi Intermediate Learning Center and Window Rock High School earned “D” grades.
Ganado Middle School, Kayenta Elementary School, Red Mesa Elementary School, Sanders Elementary School, Canyon Day Junior High School and Tsehootsooi Middle School all earned “F” grades.
A handful of schools earned “UR” which means the school has submitted an appeal of their grade and it is “under review” by the Board of Education. The schools that received a grade of “NR” means they are not rated due to insufficient data, primarily because the school did not have a sufficient number of students.
Schools showing improvement
Many schools showed significant improvement when compared to 2016-17. For example, Round Valley High School moved up two letter grades going from a “C” to an “A”. Cradleboard School K-8 in the Whiteriver District also moved up two letter grades going from an “F” to a “C”.
George Washington Academy, a K- 6 EdKey, Inc. school in Snowflake improved by three letter grades from an "F" in 2016-17 to a "B" this year.
Several other schools, including but not limited to the following list, improved a whole letter grade. Concho Elementary School went from a “C” to a “B”, as did Blue Ridge Junior High School, Mogollon High School, Round Valley Middle School, Show Low Junior High School and Show Low High School.
Linden Elementary School’s grade went from a “D” to a “C”.
Alchesay High School, McNary Elementary School and Whiteriver Elementary School all went from an “F” to a “D”.
Schools that receive grades of “D” or “F” are required to notify all residents within district boundaries in writing of the failing grade within a specific time frame,” says Blue Ridge Unified School District #32, Superintendent Dr. Michael L. Wright.
“It can be confusing because this time frame has recently changed … last year, for example, all schools received the grades very late, leaving a very small window for notification.” Last year, schools sent a letter of notifcation to parents in June, triggering fresh scrutiny and news reports, including a story in the Independent about the grades released the previous fall.
“Schools with such grades must also submit a needs assessment plan to ADE, and must adhere to specific reporting procedures,” added Wright. “The school will be required to work closely with the ADE to make sure the plan is implemented and tracked until a “C” grade is obtained.
“Part of a school’s improvement timeline includes a public meeting,” explained Show Low Unified School District Superintendent Shad Housley. “The meeting will follow the letter notification to the community about the grades.”
For more information
For more information on grades for all Arizona schools, visit the Arizona State Board of Education website at https://azsbe.az.gov/f-school-letter-grades.