New Students

Students and parents at Sechrist Elementary school on the first day of the new school year in this August 2015 file photo.

Second in a three-part series

AzMERIT English and math test pass rates for area charter schools and schools in the Flagstaff Unified School district varied widely by school and grade this year.

Gains were as large as 32 percentage points in eighth grade math for Northland Preparatory students and decreases as steep as 44 percentage points in Algebra II for Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy.

Overall, passing rates statewide stayed below 50 percent on every test in every grade level again this year, and FUSD tracked that result. But broken down by school, Sechrist, DiMiguel and Cromer in FUSD had some grade levels with majority pass rates on some tests, while every charter had at least one grade with a majority pass rate on a test.

Robert Hagstrom, the director of research and assessment for Flagstaff Unified School District, said differences among the populations of each of the schools and between FUSD schools and Flagstaff’s charter schools are key to the variations. The scores from FUSD and the charter schools really do not compare well because the district and the charters have different approaches and state and local requirements.

FUSD must take any child living within the district boundaries. Many parents of children with special educational needs choose FUSD because of the wide range of help FUSD can provide. Transportation is free and in-school meals are provided.

Charter schools can cap enrollment, and the type of student applying to a charter school is also different, Hagstrom said, depending on the focus of the school.

Elementary schools

FUSD third-graders saw some impressive gains in math and English. At Sechrist Elementary School third graders improved their English passing rate by 17 percentage points to 66 percent compared to last year’s rate of 49 percent. At Marshall Elementary School third graders increased their math pass rate by 12 percentage points to 44 percent passing this year. Marshall students also improved their English pass rate by 12 points to 35 percent this year.

Third graders at Mountain Charter School increased their English pass rate by 18 points to 73 percent this year. However, their math pass rate dropped 10 points to 63 percent this year.

Fourth graders at Leupp Public School saw an impressive 14 point increase in their English pass rates, from 13 percent passing last year to 27 percent this year. However, they also had one of the biggest decreases in the district in their math pass rates, tying with Knoles Elementary School, with a 21 point drop. Marshall Elementary had the largest decrease in English pass rates, a 17 point drop from 55 percent passing last year to 38 this year.

All of the charter schools with fourth graders saw a drop in math scores. The greatest decrease was at Mountain School, which saw a 25 point drop from 69 percent passing last year to 44 this year. Pine Forest School was the only charter with a fourth grade that saw an increase in students passing English, with the rate increasing by 13 points from 39 percent last year to 52 percent this year.

Leupp School also saw the greatest improvement in fifth grade math pass rates, with a 10 point increase to 14 percent this year. Puente de Hozho saw the greatest decrease in fifth grade math rates for FUSD, dropping 17 points from 48 percent passing last year to 31 percent this year. DeMiguel Elementary saw the greatest increase in fifth grade English pass rates with a 16 point increase from 50 percent passing last year to 66 percent this year. Puente also saw a 13 point decrease in the number of students passing fifth grade English.

Basis fifth graders had the greatest increase in fifth grade math pass rate among the charter schools, going from 63 percent last year to 85 percent this year. Flagstaff Junior Academy fifth graders struggled with both math and English passing rates this year – math dropped by 15 points and the English was down by 12 points.

Middle schools

Among the charter schools, Flagstaff Junior Academy saw the greatest improvement in sixth graders passing the English portion of the test, with a 24 point increase. The school also saw an 8 point increase in the number of students passing the math portion.

Mount Elden saw increases in both seventh grade math and English pass rates. Mount Elden seventh graders increased their passage rates in math by 3 points and in English by 10 points.

At the charter schools, Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy and Flagstaff Junior Academy had the greatest increase in seventh grade passage rates in math, with each school improving by 18 points. FALA also had the greatest increase, 23 points, in seventh graders passing the English test. Northland Preparatory saw a 16 point drop in students passing the math portion of the test and Basis saw a 20 point drop in the number of seventh graders passing the English portion.

Mount Elden and Sinagua middle schools saw increases in both math and English passing rates. Singaua had the best increase for math with a 20 point increase in passage rates. Mount Elden had the greatest increase between the two schools in English with a 19 point increase. Northland Preparatory had a 32 point increase in eight graders passing math, but an 11 point drop in students passing English. Flagstaff Junior Academy had a 10 point drop in students passing math and a 19 point drop in those passing English.

High schools

At Northland Preparatory the number of students passing algebra I increased by 15 points.

Summit High School, the alternative high school for FUSD, was the only FUSD high school to see an increase in geometry passage rates with a 4 point increase over last year. It also had a modest 3 point increase in English passage rates. FALA had a 14 point increase in students passing geometry.

FUSD high school juniors didn’t fare as well on the algebra II test. The number of students passing algebra II at Flagstaff High dropped by 11 percent and Algebra II scores at Coconino High stayed the same. FALA saw a 44 point drop in students passing algebra II and a 13 point drop in juniors passing English. Basis had a 12 point increase in students passing English.

The reporter can be reached at sadams@azdailysun.com or (928)556-2253.

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Suzanne writes about education and business. She covers the local school district, charter schools and Northern Arizona University. She also writes the Sunday business features.

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