Some schools like federal 'grades,' others disappointed
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 9, 2005

Betty Reid
Some educators celebrated and others expressed disappointment in urban Phoenix after they viewed the federal government's report card of which Arizona schools received passing grades in 2005.

A record number, 16 campuses of 20, in the Cartwright School District passed the federal government's Adequate Yearly Progress standards released on Sept. 1. Ten schools in the Isaac School District also passed, including one campus that was on the cusp of facing severe corrective action. Twelve schools in the Roosevelt School District received passing marks.

Michael Martinez, Cartwright superintendent, was pleased by his district's performance. Fifteen campuses passed AYP in 2004.

"It represents the results that you are going to have when everybody works together in a prescriptive way in order to meet our educational needs," Martinez said. "We made some efforts to look closely at our subgroups and really worked hard on our intervention strategies."

One measure of schools the federal government uses when giving pass or fail grades is to place some children in subgroups based on ethnicity and family income. English-language learners and special-education students make up other subgroups. Each group must show progress annually for a campus to pass.

Schools that fail four years in a row are subject to state intervention. It could lead to changes in curriculum and outside help.

At least 384 Arizona schools failed federal standards; that is 65 more schools than a year ago, when 319 campuses did not pass.

In Arizona, 176 schools are appealing a potential failing status but have yet to receive an official label. Information about the status of these schools will be released this month.

Then there are schools, like Isaac's Carl T. Smith Middle School and five campuses in Roosevelt, that flunked AYP. Roosevelt's five campuses are C.J. Jorgensen, C.O. Greenfield, Cesar Chavez Community, Sierra Vista and V.H. Lassen.

The status of the five Roosevelt schools, many on the failing list for the first time, mystified district officials. Lassen, for example, made gains on Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards, another measure used for AYP.

"While we are pleased to see that many of our schools have received passing grades on the federal standards this year, it is surprising that some of our very best schools, including some that have recently posted dramatic gains on the AIMS test, have now failed to make AYP," said Perry Baker, a spokesman for the Roosevelt School District.

Roosevelt appealed the potential failing status of Bush, Conchos, Davis and Julian schools. Roosevelt had four schools flunk AYP in 2004.

At least 10 of 12 schools in the Isaac School District received passing grades, including Pueblo Del Sol Middle School, a school that dropped into corrective action in 2004 after failing AYP four times. The school changed principals twice, created a new curriculum and installed a before- and after-school tutoring program.

"It means all the work paid off," Principal Gloria Garino-Spencer said. "We are thrilled."

Pueblo del Sol, in order to completely free itself from the federal monitor list, must receive a second passing grade in 2006.

Reach the reporter at or call (602) 444-8049.