Arizona schools get graded; news is more good than bad

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Students may just be heading back to class, but report cards are already out.  The Arizona Department of  Education just released grades for schools and districts across the state.  The A-F Accountability Letter Grading System was created as a way to measure students' growth and achievement.  It was first implemented last year.

The 155-page report shows there's actually more good news than bad news. More than 1,700 Arizona public schools were put under the microscope.  They were given an A, B, C, D or F based on how students perform on the AIMS test, academic growth and attendance rates.

Overall, 23 percent of Arizona schools ranked in 2012 got an A. Another 34 percent got a B. There report revealed more schools got As and Bs compared to last year, while fewer schools got Cs and Ds. 

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal said we are at least seeing an upward trend, but there is definitely room for improvement.

"We are dedicated 24 hours a day to support superintendents, schools, principals and teachers in the classroom," he explained.
So what can parents do? Huppenthal said get involved.

Parents can actually sit in during classes. Parents can choose which school their children attend. Parents can also request a particular teacher, although the school can't promise anything.

"We know now that teachers are the magic ingredient in education," Huppenthal said.

The report also included AIMS test results. There was improvement across the board in reading and math. But writing stayed flat. In fact, seventh-graders decreased in their writing test scores.

Another area  that proved to be a harsh wake-up call: college and career readiness. Huppenthal said just about a quarter of high school students would pass a reading test to be declared ready for college or a job. Only 8 percent of students would pass math, while just 7 percent would pass both.

"It's the difference where our students are and where we dream them to be,"  Huppenthal explained. "We don't have our students ready for success after high school."