20 schools to share success strategies
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 15, 2007

Conference to discuss benchmarks

Twenty of Arizona's "best-in-class" schools will be highlighted at a conference March 26-27 sponsored by the Arizona Department of Education in conjunction with Arizona State University.

The conference at the Sheraton Airport Hotel, 1600 S. 52nd St., in Tempe will introduce benchmarking as a school improvement tool, and it is open to all K-12 educators.

The 20 best-in-class schools, which include district and charter schools, were identified in a study by Prism Decision Systems LLC that analyzed three years of AIMS assessment results for Arizona schools in Grades 3, 8 and 10.
Those schools that had the highest performance for their levels of poverty and English-language learners were considered benchmark schools.

"Arizona educators want to know what higher performing schools are doing so they can reproduce those effective practices in their schools," said Arizona schools chief Tom Horne.

"Benchmarking is an improvement discipline that will provide us the framework to do just that. It allows Arizona schools to find peers with similar demographics whose students are making significant gains in academic performance," he said.

The 20 schools will present the programs, strategies and practices that contribute to their success and offer insights to lower performing schools with similar characteristics. These schools represent diverse urban, suburban, and rural demographics with wide ranges of poverty and English language learner populations.

All Arizona schools with complete data sets over a selected three-year span were included in the study. Final participation included 801 third-grade, 415 eighth-grade, and 377 10th-grade schools. More than 90 of these schools received benchmark status and 20 were then selected to present best practices at the conference.

Deadline to apply is March 22. The cost is $175.

For more about the Determined to Succeed conference, go to www.ade.az.gov under "hot topics" or call (602) 364-2066.