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butterfield elementary

Butterfield Elementary showed off its new banner designating it as an A-rated school. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

How did they do that?

Butterfield Elementary’s successful strategy to rise from a C to an A school:
*  Revamp the master schedule
*  Use data results to set grade-level and school-wide goals
*  Use results-based funding to equip third through fifth grade students with 1-to-1 laptops
*  Reconfigure classes to better prepare students

Arizona Department of Education announced school letter grades during Fall Break at Maricopa Unified School District. For at least two campuses, that resulted in a buzz of emails, texts and phone calls to make sure everyone heard the news they had achieved the top rating.

Pima Butte and Butterfield elementary schools were given A ratings. Wednesday, the district and governing board formally recognized their achievement during a board meeting.

Butterfield Elementary had the most dramatic improvement, moving from a C to an A. It is the first A-rating for the school. To be sure, Butterfield was not a “bad” school a year ago. Superintendent Tracey Lopeman pointed out its previous C rating was just five points away from a B.

Similarly, other elementary schools in the district were only a few percentage points from the next grade up this year.

Maricopa Elementary, which achieved Lighthouse status, was 0.5 from an A. Santa Rosa Elementary 0.89 away from an A. Santa Cruz Elementary was 1.88 away from an A. The only MUSD elementary with a C, Saddleback Elementary was less than 3 points from a B.

“I think the district as a whole is really doing well,” said Betty Graham, who teaches fourth grade at Pima Butte Elementary. “They’re working wonders, going up and up and up.”

Pima Butte, like the high achieving charter school Legacy Traditional, is more old-hat at receiving A ratings, but it had to rise above a B last year after missing an A by just 4 percentage points. With ratings reliant on results of the AzMerit testing, there was a lot of pressure on third, fourth and fifth grade students and their teachers.

“That A rating didn’t come easy,” PBES Principal Randy Lazar said. “It was a lot of hard work on behalf of our teaching team as well as the assistants with our students and also the support of our parents. It was a collective effort by our entire team.”

Lazar said his main advice for other Arizona elementary schools trying to rise to a higher grade is to focus on student growth.

“We get our test results from the spring and then look to see how did each student perform,” he said. “If we have students that scored minimally proficient, that’s the group you want to put a lot of attention on the next school year. The way the state calculates the letter grade is when you have kids grow. It’s a growth model as far as earning the points.”

Butterfield Principal Janel Hildick expressed a similar sentiment for Wednesday’s honor.

“It’s not just about how many students are passing but how effective we are as teachers, how our students are growing. This year we scored 49.3 out of 50 possible points for growing our students.”

Teachers credited improvements to the voter-approved override, which allowed for more technology and more teachers to reduce class sizes. Funds helped buy carts of technology in Netbooks and Chromebooks. The new equipment allowed the students to get more practice in the basic use of a computer. Lazar said that is key when taking the online-based AzMerit, which is the state standard.

The district’s high school and two middle schools received C ratings.

Learn more about Pima Butte Elementary’s success strategy in the upcoming December issue of InMaricopa.

Pima Butte Elementary is again an A-rated school. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

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Students of the National Elementary Honor Society (NEHS) from Butterfield Elementary School spent their time lending support to those who need it the most.

Over the years as members of the NEHS, the students are able to provide service to various organizations – this time it was rendered to Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) located in Mesa.

The 18 students were able to prepare over 39,000 meals for children located in the Philippines. FMSC was founded in 1987 and has outreach programs in more than 70 countries.

The service project coincides with the celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Butterfield Elementary in the Maricopa Unified School District.

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Submitted photo

Students celebrated Theodore Geisel’s birthday last week at local schools. Geisel is better known by his pen name: Dr. Seuss. Butterfield Elementary invited guest speakers to read the author’s books during Read Across America Week inside second grade classrooms. Readers included Mayor Christian Price, public safety personnel, fire fighters, Maricopa Unified School District Board Members and staff, as well as a disc jockey from Valley radio station Mix 96.9. Read Across America Day was also celebrated at the Maricopa Public Library.


(Photos submitted by Butterfield Teacher Allie Krigbaum)


Butterfield Elementary School students write about their favorite part of the season:

(Click on photos below to enlarge)

Jack and Brady McMullen are among Butterfield Elementary students honoring veterans in a personal way.

As Maricopa prepares for its first Veterans Day Parade this weekend, children are learning all about those who served.

Fifth grade student Brady McMullen and his little brother Jack submitted a photo of their great-grandfather William Davis to a project at school that honors veterans.

Davis served during the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II.

A large wall inside the school is home to a collage of photos and information about students’ family-member veterans.

“They served in war so we could have freedom for our country,” Brady McMullen said.

Jack and Brady never had a chance to meet their great-grandfather, but the veterans wall at their school is helping them learn about him.

Students fill out forms about their family members who are veterans, attach a photo and place it on the wall for the month of November.

“I think it’s important for them to honor veterans,” said Kristin McMullen, fifth grade teacher and mom of Jack and Brady. “These are kids that- they’ve grown up always with our country at war and it’s just important to know the sacrifices that people have made for them.”

The wall shows students their personal connection to history.

“He was stationed in Pearl Harbor when they were bombed by the Japanese and he was sent to, I think it was, South East Asia in the war started to fight,” Brady said.

Kristin McMullen said it’s also a way for some kids to get to know their living veteran family members, an opportunity she didn’t have.

“I personally did it because my grandfather passed away when I was in fourth grade, so I never was given the opportunity to ask him any of the questions and so I just want to make sure that they’re able to talk to their family members and find out something that they did that was pretty great,” McMullen said.