Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/northeastvalley/articles/0211sr-pvmeeting07Z7.html

Unstable enrollment hard on schools
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 11, 2004 12:00 AM
Ofelia Madrid

Improvement comes slowly

The Paradise Valley Unified School District schools labeled "underperforming" in 2002 by the state continue to show improvement in academic areas but are plagued by a revolving door of students.

Principals from Campo Bello, Palomino and Palomino II elementary schools were on hand to give quarterly updates to the governing board at its meeting Thursday night.

Campo Bello Principal Jenny Robles said that of the 774 students enrolled, 203 are new and 61 students withdrew, giving them a mobility rate of almost 54 percent. Still, when state labels for 2003 were released, the school had moved up to performing.

As part of Palomino's improvement plan, the school last fall was divided into two schools: Palomino, with kindergarten through third grade, and Palomino II, with fourth through sixth grades.

Palomino Principal Ana Ramos-Pell said teachers have concentrated on improving reading scores, but it's difficult to measure when the school has so many students coming and going.

Palomino has a mobility rate of 63 percent, up significantly from 29 percent during the 2002-03 year. Since the school year began, 393 new students enrolled and 146 withdrew.

"You have to ask the question: 'Are we testing the same kids?' " Ramos-Pell said. She compared the teachers' efforts to pinning Jell-O to the wall. She also mentioned that many of her students have never been in an American school.

"There's an increase of students coming straight from Mexico," she said. Many times, a nuclear family will arrive in the United States and stay with relatives. During that time, the child is enrolled in school, but then he or she is pulled out as soon as the family gets an apartment and moves, Ramos-Pell said.

The mobility rate at Palomino II is lower, less than 10 percent, but of the 495 students at the school, 399 are English Language Learners or in special education.

The school is improving in baby steps, Principal Manuel Ramirez said.

Superintendent John Kriekard said stability was key for the students' success.

"Stability in leadership, programs, staff and assessment will help us lead the way," he said.