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home : features : schools & education April 17, 2015

8/5/2014 2:48:00 PM
Report card is in:
13 Yavapai County schools earn an 'A' on AIMS tests; 6 get a 'D' grade
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Patrick Whitehurst
Special to the Tribune

Arizona's highest-ranking school district honors this year belong to the Ash Fork Joint Unified School District.

According to data released by the Arizona Department of Education on Monday - the first day of school for many - Ash Fork JUSD ranked the highest in the state's AIMS standings, with an A grade and 165 points.

AIMS (Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards) is an assessment test administered in the spring to students in grades 4, 8, and high school.

Seth Staples, superintendent for Ash Fork JUSD, said the district made the top 10 in the state last year, but this is the first year the district has earned the number-one spot.

"We were number nine last year with an A rating, and a B the year before that. We missed the A that year by one point," Staples said. "This year we really just focused on improving the classroom and also tracking student growth, knowing exactly what students needed."

Teachers in the district not only helped those who fell below the standard, but also assisted those who met the standard to excel at a higher level, Staples said.

"Our teachers are really stepping up to the challenge, along with all of our staff. They're instruction is really amazing," Staples said.

In total, 13 schools in Yavapai County landed the coveted A letter grade, including Mountain View Preparatory School in Cottonwood, Granville Elementary School in Prescott Valley, Mountain Oak Charter School in Prescott, Accelerated Learning Charter School in Cottonwood, Tri-City College Preparatory School in Prescott, Willow Creek Charter School in Prescott, Abia Judd Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center in Prescott Valley, Congress Elementary School, Ash Fork Middle School, Ash Fork Elementary School, Humboldt Elementary School, and Sedona Red Rock High School.

While no schools listed earned an F, or failing, grade in the county, six earned D grades, according to the recent Arizona Department of Education report card. Those schools include Park View Middle School in Prescott Valley, La Tierra Community School in Prescott, Glassford Hill Middle School in Prescott Valley, Mayer High School, Mayer Elementary School, and Hillside Elementary School in Bagdad.

Glassford Hill school administrators are appealing the grade, according to Cole Young, director of educational services.

"We are currently in the process of a substantive appeal with the Arizona Department of Education," Young said. "The label is pending until the state has an opportunity to review our circumstances. Our appeal date is set for Aug. 19."

Letter grades are based on the student performances taken from the AIMS tests, as well as from overall student academic growth from year to year, with additional points for high English Language Learner reclassifications. Every school and district receives a report card with a grade to reflect their academic standing, according to the Arizona Department of Education.

Statewide, 302 schools showed improvement by one letter grade when compared to the year prior. Thirty-eight schools in the state improved by two letters. Sixty-three percent maintained the same letter grade as the year before, while 17 percent decreased in letter grades.

In the state, 33 percent of Arizona's schools received a B grade, 32 percent received an A grade, 25 percent received a C grade and 10 percent received a D grade.

BASIS, meanwhile, ranked highest for charter schools in the state with 163 points, though individual school grades vary. The top two charter school systems, operating at least three sites with a total enrollment of 800 students, included BASIS with 163 points and Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center with 158 points.

Specific school information is available at the Department of Education website,

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Article comment by: Money in Schools Is Important

A comment made on Monday by the Ashfork superintendent indicated that had they not received extra money throughout the previous year for "performance", Ashfork would not have had the resources that helped them improve. He stated they focused on the classroom which indicates purchases were made to help students improve their chances of doing well on the AIMS test.

The bottom line is the bottom line: If students aren't given the proper tools and resources to help them achieve higher academics, then the playing field is not even for all!!

The State Superintendent of Public Education, Mr. Huppnethal, even indicated on tv August 5th that money makes a difference. What a turn around from a few weeks ago!!

Wake up Wanna Be Governors!! Funding education should be higher on your list of promises than "securing the border"! It would be nice to see you secure the future of Arizona's children first!!!

Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Article comment by: Glassford Hill: Students were traumatized!!

As a friend of many teachers who teach at Glassford Hill as well as many parents who send their children to Glassford, it is important that people know that on the third day of AIMS testing, there was a call into the school just before the day began that a student had a gun in his backpack. The school went into an immediate lockdown. This lasted over 3 hours with children and teachers locked in their rooms not knowing whether the call was a real threat. Once the call was determined to be a hoax, hoards of parents came and took their children out of school for the rest of the day.

There is a limited number of days to take the test so students were expected to take the next portion of the AIMS test the day after the lockdown. Attendance was well below 80%.

I know how hard the students and teachers worked to prepare students to do well on the AIMS test. Throughout the year, they took tests that would indicate weaknesses in areas within the curriculum and then teachers would address those weaknesses. Students showed tremendous and steady improvement on each test!

The AIMS test this year does not represent these phenomenal students or their teachers! An "A" grade was in reach based on the tests throughout the year had a senseless hoax not happened.

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