Original URL: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/scottsdale/articles/1023sr-labelingpv23Z8.html

PV district has no quick fix for its 2 low-rated schools
Officials assessing them before acting

By Kirsten Sorenson, The Arizona Republic, Oct. 23, 2002

NORTHEAST PHOENIX - There's no quick fix for two schools in the Paradise Valley Unified School District that recently received a low rating from the Arizona Department of Education, according to district officials.

The district has until Nov. 15 to notify parents of the labels. Principals are drafting parent letters. The district is using its Web site, www.pvusd.k12.az .us, and e-mail to notify the rest of the community.

Two of the district's schools, Campo Bello Elementary and Palomino Elementary, received the lowest rating possible, "underperforming," when the state released its labels last week for every school in the state. Palomino Elementary, for example, has struggled with low test scores, and more recently, controversy regarding its dual-language program.

The rest of Paradise Valley's schools received either an "improving" rating or a "maintaining adequate performance" label. The state used Stanford 9 and AIMS tests, as well as high school graduation and drop-out rates as part of data collection and analysis. Only two schools in the state received the highest rating, "excelling."

While notification is the first step, the district said it does not yet have specific plans for how to improve schools.

"To tell you that we already know what the vision is - that is not the case," said Mary McIntyre, the district's Title One coordinator. Both underperforming schools are Title One schools.

Regardless of the labels, the district has an unchanging goal to improve schools.

"We're in the assessment process, but that doesn't mean that schools aren't in the improvement process," said Dr. Lillian Baribault, director of curriculum.

And the district doesn't plan to simply focus on the two underperforming schools.

"We don't want the schools that are maintaining to slip," McIntyre said.

Some have criticized the labeling process as confusing and unfair. But district officials say it gives them another tool to help improve schools.

"I'm accepting the fact that this is what we were given to work with," McIntyre said.

Meanwhile, officials in the Cave Creek Unified School District, whose schools all received the improving label, said the state profiles are but one way to evaluate a school.

"School improvement is about standards, not standardization," Superintendent John Gordon said. "Meeting and exceeding state standards is something the Cave Creek District has taken head-on."

Reach the reporter at kirsten.sorenson@scottsdalerepublic .com or (602) 444-6843.


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