Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/glendale/articles/1121sr-pvlabel19Z2.html

PV middle school wins appeal, is graded 'highly performing'
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 21, 2003 12:00 AM

Ofelia Madrid

Teachers and staff at Vista Verde Middle School knew it all along. Now the state knows it, too.

The Paradise Valley School District won an appeal to the Arizona Department of Education to change the school's label to "highly performing" from "performing."

"Obviously, we're pleased," Vista Verde Principal Patrick Sweeney said.

When the labels came out in October, Vista Verde was labeled performing by the state but didn't meet its annual yearly progress, or AYP, by the federal government.

To meet the federal standard, the school must show higher scores in eight groups of students, including five ethnic groups, students who are learning English, students living in poverty and special-education students. If a student in one of those groups fails to take the test, then the entire school fails to make Adequate Yearly Progress.

In Vista Verde's case, the federal government said that the school had not given the AIMS test to 46 eighth-graders, Sweeney said.

When he and his staff went back to check why those students hadn't been tested, they found that they had been tested.

"We found test results for every single kid," Sweeney said.

That changed the school's AYP label. Making AYP is worth one point in the state label formula, and it raised Vista Verde's points to 14.7 from 13.7 and the ranking to highly performing. Schools needed 13.8 points to be labeled highly performing, so the school had missed the highly performing label by one-tenth of a point in October.

"That was a big point," Sweeney said. "For us, that made a huge difference."

Of the six middle schools in the district, two are now labeled highly performing, three have the highest label, "excelling," and one is labeled performing.