Preliminary Arizona school letter grades are out and the results are not good for some area schools.
Flagstaff High School dropped from being an A school the last time the grades came out in 2014 to a C school. Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy’s letter grade for its ninth through 12th grades dropped from an A to a C. Puente de Hozoho Elementary and Sinagua Middle schools dropped from a B to a D.
Other schools, such as Basis, Northland Preparatory Academy and DeMiguel Elementary schools, did not see a change at all in their letter grades compared to 2014. There were no Flagstaff area schools that saw an improvement in their letter grade.
This year’s letter grades were based on a number of factors, including results from the AzMERIT tests. The 2014 letter grades were based off the old AIMS test, which was not as difficult. Fewer than 50 percent of students across the state passed the AzMERIT test this year.
According to the Arizona State Board of Education, the kindergarten through eighth grade school grades were weighted as follows: 30 percent for students scoring proficient, 50 percent for growth in student scores, 10 percent for growth and proficiency in scores by English Language Learners and 10 percent for students scoring in the acceleration/readiness.
The formula for calculating the high school grades is different. High school have 30 percent of the grade based on students scoring proficient, 20 percent for growth in scores, 10 percent for growth and proficiency by English Language Learners, 20 percent for a school’s graduation rate and 20 percent for a school's college and career readiness.
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Schools and districts do have the option to appeal the letter grade.
FALA Executive Director Larry Wallen said the school plans to appeal the C grade for its high school students. Wallen wasn’t sure if a snafu that happened with the submittal of the 10th grade AzMERIT scores had something to do with the C grade, but he’s appealed to ADE and the Arizona Board of Education.
Wallen explained that the ID numbers for students in the 10th grade were inadvertently replaced with the school’s ID number. The error was not caught by the system schools use to submit the test scores to the state, he said. That’s why there are no AzMERIT test scores for 10th graders at FALA this year. Wallen said he’s working with ADE and the Az Board of Education to get the situation corrected.
Flagstaff Unified School District declined to comment on the letter grades Friday. Public Relations Coordinator Karin Eberhard said the district had not been released from the embargo on talking about the grades by the Arizona Department of Education. She said the district would be able to speak about the grades on Monday after the embargo was lifted.
The letter grades were due to be released Monday, but the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting was able to get a copy of the letter grades from ADE after it challenged the department’s authority to embargo the grades that had already been released to the schools.
According to ADE Director of Communications Dan Godzich, the grades released to the Center for Investigative Reporting are “still a work in progress” and are not “complete.” He recommended waiting until Monday when the final, complete file of grades is expected to be released.