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Sechrist Elementary School

Sechrist Elementary School.

Preliminary standardized test scores have been released for schools around the state and they show that while Flagstaff Unified School District students again fell below the state average, the district also saw noticeable increases in the number of students who received passing scores on the math test and improvements in English test pass rates for a majority of grade levels.

The data from the statewide AzMERIT test have yet to go through a final verification process, which could tweak some numbers slightly but not enough to significantly change school and district-wide statistics, said Robert Hagstrom, the director of research and assessment for the Flagstaff Unified School District, which serves 80 to 85 percent of students in Flagstaff.

The proportion of FUSD students who scored proficient or highly proficient on the state test -- the two scores that are considered “passing” -- lagged behind preliminary state totals by an average of 7 percentage points over all grades and all subjects. The state scores also have yet to go through final verifications, Hagstrom said.

He pointed to several other bright spots in FUSD’s test data where schools saw gains in areas they had specifically set out to improve the previous year. Additionally, each of the three elementaries that received “D” ratings last year under the new state grading system saw improvement in at least some grade levels, Hagstrom said.

He stressed that the AzMERIT scores are one among many assessments the district uses to measure student progress and achievement.

The big picture

Rodel Teachers

Jillian Hernandez looks at student work during a math concepts exercise in her Killip Elementary fifth-grade class. Hernandez is a 2015 Rodel Exemplary Teacher winner.

In FUSD, math scores generally improved district-wide -- except among seventh- and eighth-graders, who saw negligible changes in test pass rates. English scores jumped around more, though Hagstrom said he’s looking especially closely at seventh grade, which saw a 2 percentage point decline in the proportion of students passing the English test in addition to the slight drop in math scores.

The 10th-grade English scores also saw a drop that Hagstrom said was notable because that grade’s passing rate had increased over the past three years before dropping this year. It also was the only high school grade to see a decline in English pass rates.

In science, test pass rates district-wide stayed more or less flat among fourth- and eighth-graders and declined among high schoolers.

The test was online for the first time this year, which Hagstrom said could have had a negative impact on student performance.

The majority of middle and high school students in the district did not achieve passing scores on either test. Only a handful of elementary school grades had a majority of students pass one or both tests.

Higher grade lull

On the math test, middle school pass rates were noticeably lower than those of high school and elementary school students. That’s not a new trend, Hagstrom said, and educators don’t know exactly what the reason might be. They are trying a new tactic this year to extend the same grading system used in the elementary schools to middle schools, which should give teachers a more accurate picture throughout the year of what students know and what they still need to learn before the AzMERIT tests in the spring.

In English, pass rates dip noticeably in the grades after elementary school, which the district has also seen in years past. That’s when tests get more complex and go beyond reading comprehension, Hagstrom said, adding that in his opinion the test at those higher grades is asking questions that go beyond the scope of standards the state is asking the district to teach.

Changes working?

Math scores saw steadier and more significant gains than English scores this year. Hagstrom said some of the reason could be that the district has implemented a new curriculum and has offered several professional development opportunities for teachers to improve as math educators.

Another school improvement strategy the district started in 2017 are “data stories” for each school that include analysis of AzMERIT scores and an individual plan to improve them, Hagstrom said.

He pointed to Kinsey and Sechrist elementaries as examples of schools that saw significant gains in test scores in grades and subjects that the schools had targeted for improvement in their 2017 data stories. Kinsey focused on improving math scores and saw significant gains there, while Sechrist focused on fourth-grade math and that’s where the school saw the most improvement, Hagstrom said.

Kinsey, Puente de Hozho and Leupp -- the three schools that received “D” rankings last year based on the state’s newest letter grading system -- each saw some positive signs of improvement this year, though it wasn’t across the board, Hagstrom said.

Those schools are still working on improvement plans required by the state and have public meetings on that process scheduled for later this month.

The district continues to see a large gap between schools that are higher and those that are lower on the socio-economic scale and that didn’t change in the 2018 scores, as far as he can tell, Hagstrom said. The lower-scoring schools are each trying to boost performance in their own ways. Leupp, for example, is starting its own preschool to boost early childhood education.

New testing for high schools

Flagstaff High School

Flagstaff High School.

Next year, Coconino and Flagstaff high schools have decided to abandon the AzMERIT test entirely in favor of the ACT and its related tests. At Flagstaff High School, ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders will take tests in the ACT suite while at Coconino High School only 10th- and 11th-graders will take the ACT test. The district probably has to pick up the cost of these alternative tests and Coconino can’t afford to purchase it for ninth-graders next year, Hagstrom said.

There are a number of advantages to the ACT, including the fact that 11th grade scores are important for applications to colleges or for scholarships, Hagstrom said.

“We feel it’s a better quality assessment but for our 11th-grade students, it’s also meaningful for them. That’s one of biggest factors why we chose to do it,” Hagstrom said.

NPA

VALEDICTORIAN'S WISDOM

Northland Preparatory Academy Valedictorian, Maya Smith, addresses the crowd at the NPA graduation Thursday afternoon at Ardrey Auditorium.

At Northland Preparatory Academy, high school math scores dropped significantly from the year before, a fact that principal Toni Keberlein said was partially due to the fact that several of those classes had two different teachers, plus a long-term substitute over the course of the school year. Schools across the state have experienced teacher shortages and NPA was no exception, Keberlein said. When teachers have advanced degrees, it’s attractive for them to move on to the college level.

NPA’s eighth-graders also struggled in the math test, with just 7 percent receiving a passing score. That cohort struggled in seventh grade as well, so the school created a math class specifically for those students that had lower student-teacher ratios and help from a math specialist, Keberlein said.

Sixth- and seventh-graders, however, improved their math scores drastically over the year before. Those grades had the same math teachers as years past, but they got new materials that could have made a difference, Keberlein said.

In English, the percent of middle schoolers passing the test increased, while the percent of high schoolers that received passing grades declined. Keberlein said she still has to dig into the possible reasons for that trend.

Like Flagstaff and Coconino, high school students at NPA will take tests that are a part of the ACT suite instead of AzMERIT next spring, she said.

FALA 

Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy generally saw math scores fall across grades, with the exception of 11th grade, which saw a significant betterment in math scores — from 18 to 44 percent passing. In ELA, FALA scores demonstrated a general upwards trend, with percentages going up by 10 and 20 points on some occasions. The only dip in ELA scores for FALA was seen in 10th grade, where 2018 scores were 20 percentage points lower than those of 2016.

BASIS

BASIS Flagstaff scored some of the highest percentages among charter schools; this spring saw both ELA and math scores go up generally, and in third, fifth grade especially. The largest upwards trend in ELA was seen in seventh grade, where the percent passing rate jumped from 71 percent in 2017 to 92 percent in 2018. Math scores dropped in eighth grade, as well as sixth, but were high in compared to other charters. 11th-grade ELA scores stayed the same as last year’s.

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Third Grade

SCHOOLS - - - - - - - -
Math 2015 Math 2016 Math 2017 Math 2018 ELA 2015 ELA 2016 ELA 2017 ELA 2018
FUSD
Cromer 55 60 54 53 43 47 46 45
DeMiguel 47 46 50 49 55 48 54 41
Killip 35 22 30 33 21 12 23 30
Kinsey 25 22 22 32 30 25 23 22
Knoles 43 48 51 51 46 41 40 45
Leupp 29 15 18 28 29 15 6 17
Marshall 41 32 44 36 30 23 35 45
Puente de Hozho 33 33 45 48 36 40 43 33
Sechrist 67 67 65 76 64 49 66 58
Thomas 20 34 33 33 20 28 25 17
CHARTER
BASIS N/A N/A 72 78 N/A N/A 68 67
Flagstaff Jr Academy N/A 57 55 N/A 47 51 68 N/A
Flagstaff Montessori N/A 88 55 47 N/A 81 86 71
Haven Montessori N/A N/A 81 N/A N/A N/A 69 N/A
Mountain 59 79 63 64 61 55 73 82
Pine Forest N/A 50 44 28 26 39 41 47

Fourth Grade

SCHOOLS - - - - - - - -
Math 2015 Math 2016 Math 2017 Math 2018 ELA 2015 ELA 2016 ELA 2017 ELA 2018
FUSD
Cromer 35 40 39 42 33 60 53 49
DeMiguel 43 48 40 50 41 59 50 61
Killip 32 31 28 16 19 29 28 25
Kinsey 20 13 14 30 20 20 22 25
Knoles 45 55 34 51 46 52 49 55
Leupp 39 40 19 21 22 13 27 15
Marshall 38 40 21 37 39 55 38 37
Puente de Hozho 61 39 35 38 38 35 29 43
Sechrist 41 51 43 71 53 72 56 74
Thomas 36 27 35 36 35 31 35 33
CHARTER
BASIS N/A N/A 88 83 N/A N/A 78 72
Flagstaff Jr Academy 44 71 48 N/A 44 67 65 N/A
Flagstaff Montessori N/A 61 57 50 N/A 78 86 77
Haven Montessori N/A N/A 67 N/A N/A N/A 67 N/A
Mountain 54 69 44 61 47 65 62 67
Pine Forest n/a 50 33 36 0 39 52 56

Fifth Grade

SCHOOLS - - - - - - - -
Math 2015 Math 2016 Math 2017 Math 2018 ELA 2015 ELA 2016 ELA 2017 ELA 2018
FUSD
Cromer 42 42 28 46 23 45 39 54
DeMiguel 45 50 50 43 41 50 66 60
Killip 27 33 31 34 11 31 24 33
Kinsey 15 17 12 28 13 32 25 38
Knoles 36 52 40 42 30 45 40 48
Leupp N/A 4 14 26 N/A 13 14 11
Marshall 42 42 38 32 26 35 44 42
Puente de Hozho 33 48 31 36 29 42 29 41
Sechrist 54 57 65 67 40 53 67 62
Thomas 26 30 31 38 13 33 27 28
CHARTER
BASIS 58 63 85 91 74 79 72 79
Flagstaff Jr. Academy N/A 46 31 N/A 49 61 49 N/A
Flagstaff Montessori N/A 43 41 43 N/A 70 59 81
Mountain N/A N/A 44 60 40 70 78 57
Pine Forest N/A N/A 19 29 30 48 55 50

Sixth Grade

SCHOOL - - - - - - - -
Math 2015 Math 2016 Math 2017 Math 2018 ELA 2015 ELA 2016 ELA 2017 ELA 2018
FUSD
Mount Elden 16 30 22 25 22 25 30 31
Sinagua 22 23 23 32 19 27 30 32
CHARTER
BASIS 72 76 85 81 73 80 82 79
Flagstaff Jr. Academy N/A 28 36 N/A 43 36 60 N/A
Flagtaff Montessori N/A 29 60 54 N/A 57 70 62
Northland Preparatory 51 60 56 69 66 66 60 70
Pine Forest N/A 29 36 15 N/A 42 55 35

Seventh Grade

SCHOOL - - - - - - - -
Math 2015 Math 2016 Math 2017 Math 2018 ELA 2015 ELA 2016 ELA 2017 ELA 2018
FUSD
Mount Elden 20 24 27 22 21 24 34 29
Sinagua 25 30 25 27 20 38 40 39
CHARTER
BASIS 78 N/A 87 86 78 91 71 92
FALA 32 30 48 41 44 37 53 63
Flagstaff Jr. Academy N/A 16 34 N/A N/A 24 45 N/A
Flagstaff Montessori N/A 67 63 40 N/A 78 100 70
Northland Preparatory 51 48 32 60 61 62 59 75
Pine Forest N/A 39 33 27 N/A 39 37 57

Eighth Grade

SCHOOL - - - - - - - -
Math 2015 Math 2016 Math 2017 Math 2018 ELA 2015 ELA 2016 ELA 2017 ELA 2018
FUSD
Mount Elden 21 8 27 14 21 15 34 29
Sinagua 29 13 33 27 23 24 25 33
CHARTER
BASIS 76 N/A 85 71 78 74 80 90
FALA 31 4 13 7 52 35 35 52
Flagstaff Jr. Academy 39 24 14 N/A 34 27 8 N/A
Flagstaff Montessori N/A 55 64 71 N/A 73 73 86
Northland Preparatory 43 15 47 7 46 63 52 53
Pine Forest 58 42 29 52 92 33 24 48

Ninth Grade

SCHOOL - - - - - - - -
Algebra I 2015 Algebra I 2016 Algebra I 2017 Algebra I 2018 9th ELA 2015 9th ELA 2016 9th ELA 2017 9th ELA 2018
FUSD
Coconino 18 25 25 23 13 30 24 32
Flagstaff 22 24 22 26 17 36 28 41
Summit 5 0 8 0 0 0 0 0
CHARTER
BASIS 72 72 N/A N/A 98 89 98 95
FALA 46 46 44 26 52 62 N/A 47
NPA 69 61 76 56 59 67 66 66

10th Grade

SCHOOL - - - - - - - -
Geometry 2015 Geometry 2016 Geometry 2017 Geometry 2018 10th ELA 2015 10th ELA 2016 10th ELA 2017 10th ELA 2018
FUSD
Coconino 19 31 29 25 17 21 25 24
Flagstaff 34 33 29 39 29 29 33 29
Summit 0 0 8 0 10 0 0 0
CHARTER
BASIS 80 60 62 N/A 84 98 91 96
FALA 52 30 44 46 60 68 N/A 48
NPA 76 82 76 67 70 74 66 74

11th Grade

SCHOOL - - - - - - - -
Algebra II 2015 Algebra II 2016 Algebra II 2017 Algebra II 2018 11th ELA 2015 11th ELA 2016 11th ELA 2017 11th ELA 2018
FUSD
Coconino 21 25 25 29 16 20 18 27
Flagstaff 40 38 27 36 23 29 23 22
Summit 0 13 13 0 0 0 0 0
CHARTER
BASIS 56 N/A N/A 97 86 84 96 96
FALA 44 62 18 44 64 64 51 71
NPA 61 82 81 68 60 78 67 69
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