By Steve Chestnut
The Arizona State Board of Education recently developed a new A-F letter grade system for all schools. As a result, all public schools in the state were given new letter grades based mostly on the results of the 2017 AzMerit state tests. For elementary and middle schools 80 percent of the new letter grades are determined by the state tests and for high schools 50 percent of the new letter grade is determined by the state tests. The new letter grades were released to the public on Oct. 9.
The 2017 letter grades for schools in the Maricopa Unified School District are:
- Butterfield Elementary: C
- Maricopa Elementary: C
- Pima Butte Elementary: B
- Saddleback Elementary: C
- Santa Cruz Elementary: B
- Santa Rosa Elementary: C
- Desert Wind Middle School: D
- Maricopa Wells Middle School: D
- Maricopa High School: C
We are not satisfied with these letter grades and our goal is for each school to be A rated. To help us achieve that goal we have implemented four major K-12 initiatives in 2017-18. First, as a result of override funds, we have 50 additional certified staff this year making class size lower at all schools. Lower class size allows teachers to give more individual attention to students. Second, with override funds we are able to provide additional instructional technology to students to assist them with their academic work. Third, we have implemented new K-12 math curriculum materials and teachers have received professional development training concerning how to use these materials. Finally, K-12 teachers are now using a new “benchmark testing” platform three times during the year so student progress on the state’s curriculum standards can be determined. Teachers received training in how to use the new testing system.
At the elementary schools, the middle schools, and the high school additional things are being done to improve student achievement. Students in grades K-3 are using a new phonics curriculum to build student reading skills and teachers have received professional development training in its use. At the middle school level, two additional blended learning classrooms have been added at Maricopa Wells Middle School. The high school started Ram Academy for credit deficient juniors and seniors which will help to improve the school’s graduation rate.
We know that letter grades are not the only measure of a school’s success. We are also very proud of our excellent staff, the innovative learning opportunities we provide for students, our high quality fine arts programs, our outstanding extra-curricular programs, as well as the safe learning environment we provide at each school.
To learn more about the letter grades for the Maricopa Unified School District, you are invited to attend a Parent Meeting with Superintendent Steve Chestnut on Wednesday, October 18th. You can attend the 10-11 a.m. meeting or the 7-8 p.m. meeting. Each meeting will be the same. Both meetings will be held in the MUSD Governing Board Room located at 44150 W Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.
Steve Chestnut is superintendent of Maricopa Unified School District.