The district will hold two meetings for parents regarding the A-F letter grades on Oct. 18. The first meeting will be held at 10 a.m. and another at 7 p.m. at the MUSD Governing Board Room, 44150 W. Maricopa Casa Grande Highway.
Schools received their letter grades for the 2016-17 school year from the Arizona Department of Education last week. The results were formally released to the public Oct. 9.
The state’s “A-F Accountability system” was recently adopted in April and measures new testing and achievement standards.
“Arizona’s new transparent A-F system has clear objectives and metrics that focus less on the results of one test, but place a greater emphasis on student growth,” said Tim Carter, president of the Arizona State Board of Education in a press release on Sept. 25.
Letter grades are partially based on results from the AzMERIT standardized test and a combination of other factors including proficiency, growth, English Language Learners’ growth and proficiency, and acceleration/readiness factors.
Indicators are weighted differently for K-8 schools and high schools. For example, 80 percent of K-8 scores are dependent on AzMERIT proficiency and growth, whereas high school scores in that category make up 50 percent.
The 2016-17 letter grades are the first to be released after the state took a “two-year hiatus allowing for a transition to higher academics and a new assessment.”
Legacy Traditional School and Pima Butte Elementary, the only formerly “A”-rated schools in Maricopa, lowered to “B” ratings.
Both middle schools in the Maricopa Unified School District, Desert Wind and Maricopa Wells, lowered from “C” to “D” ratings.
Saddleback Elementary “C”; Santa Cruz Elementary “B”; and Maricopa High School “C”, all maintained their letter grades.
Butterfield Elementary, Maricopa Elementary and Santa Rosa Elementary all lowered from “B”-rated schools to “C” ratings.
Charter school Sequoia Pathway Academy rated “C” in both its K-8 and 9-12 schools. Leading Edge Academy received a “B” rating.
Holsteiner Agricultural School, Camino Montessori School and nearby Mobile Elementary School did not receive ratings.
According to an ADE press release “the State Board voted to not assign FY17 letter grades for schools exclusively serving grades K-2 and small schools.”
Those ratings are scheduled to be released to the smaller schools in mid-January, and opened to the public in February.
Regionally, Stanfield Elementary School received the lowest “F” rating.
Maricopa’s largest public school district, MUSD, has for years publicly campaigned to become an “A”-rated district.
However, challenges most schools experienced adapting to the new standardized test and letter grade system have proved that goal is still ahead of the district.
“We knew that this was a tougher test (AzMERIT) and more demanding curriculum standards, so we knew that it was quite possible that letter grades could drop,” said MUSD Superintendent Steve Chestnut.
The district’s recent efforts in passing an override, hiring 50 additional teaching staff, and implementing new technology in schools are all ways the district plans to improve scores in the future, Chestnut said.
“We believe that we have good strategies in place to continue to improve and that’s our goal,” Chestnut said.
This year, the district opened Ram Academy, an alternative program for high school students with credit deficiencies. Chestnut said those students’ scores will be included in next year’s state letter grades for Maricopa High School because the academy is not considered separate from MHS, at least for now.
The district will hold two meetings for parents regarding the A-F letter grades on Oct. 18. The first meeting will be held at 10 a.m. and another at 7 p.m. at the MUSD Governing Board Room located at 44150 W. Maricopa Casa Grande Highway.