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8/3/2012 6:01:00 AM
Kingman middle school results a drag on AIMS score
KUSD rates an overall 'C' despite top grades at Palo Christi, Manzanita
Gretchen Dorner
Gretchen Dorner
How the grades are calculated
Before you get into the story, take a gander at how the state calculates its A-F grades.

The Arizona Dept. of Education looks at each school and the percentage of all students at each school that a) completed a full academic year and b) passed the reading and math portions of the AIMS test. That percentage is put toward a composite score, so if 66 percent of all kids at a given school passed the math and reading portions of the AIMS test the school gets 66 points toward its overall grade.

Next, the state looks at two types of median improvement rates for each school. One rate corresponds to all students, and the other is dedicated to the lowest performing students (bottom 25 percent). The state then creates two percentile-based ranks for each type of improvement calculation and puts them together to create an average, which is then added with the composite score to create an overall grade.

So, if a school is in the 60th percentile for "all students," it means the school did better than 59 percent of similar schools in the state when it comes to improving on the previous year's scores. If that same school is in the 51st percentile when it comes to growth of the lowest performing students, the school's overall growth score is 56.

There are three other places where school's can earn bonus points for the composite score. If a school has an English Language Learners cohort, and it can get 30 percent of those students reclassified to "fully English" during a given school year, it receives three bonus points.

The two other bonus opportunities correspond to a high school's graduation and dropout rates. If a school can raise its graduation rate by at least 1 percent, it can earn three bonus points. Likewise, if a school can lower its dropout rate by at least 1 percent, it can earn another three bonus points.

The composite score is added to the improvement score to get the overall score, which corresponds to the letter grade. So, schools with overall scores between 0-99 earn D's, schools that score between 100-119 earn C's, schools that score between 120-139 earn B's and those that score between 140-200 earn A's.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Kingman Unified's state A-F grades, which are tied to the 2011-2012 Arizona Instrument for Measuring Standards results, showed district schools moving in both directions: Some improved, but others - particularly the middle schools - regressed.

Though two schools earned A's, the D's received by the middle schools applied downward pressure on the district's overall grade, which ultimately ended up being a C.

Manzanita and Palo Christi elementary schools pulled in A's. Cerbat Elementary, Hualapai Elementary and Mount Tipton School received B's. Kingman High, Black Mountain and La Senita Elementary checked in with C's. White Cliffs Middle School and Kingman Middle School brought in D grades.

"Math was a real big problem this year, especially at Kingman Middle School," said Gretchen Dorner, the district's assessment director. "But that's something we're seeing across the state."

In Kingman Middle School's math department, there were problems with classroom management and instruction techniques. The school and district attempted to rectify the issue mid-year with strategy focused on implementing different ways to teach concepts in order to reach more students, Jacks said.

Some of the teacherswere receptive. Others weren't - in fact, some math department staff walked out in the middle of the year, Jacks said.

The school's state grade reflected the problems it went through during the year.

For instance, 43 percent of sixth-graders passed the math portion of the AIMS test while 42 percent of seventh- and eighth-graders passed it. As far as improvement - called growth by the state - goes, the school ranked in the 36th percentile, meaning that 64 percent of the middle schools in the state showed more improvement than Kingman Middle School.

White Cliffs Middle School didn't do any better, with 41 percent of its sixth-graders, 58 percent of its seventh-graders and 43 percent of its eighth-graders passing the math portion of AIMS. The school checked in at the 37th percentile for overall improvement.

At both schools, the percentage of students who passed the reading portions of the test was better than the math percentages, but it still wasn't enough to push them into the C range.

One thing to note about White Cliffs is that its scores did not fall compared to last year. Even though the improvement the school did show wasn't enough for a better grade, it's good to know that the school maintained or improved all its scores, Jacks said.

Through district curriculum director Jeri Wolsey, KUSD plans to implement several changes at the middle schools in hopes of improving the academic atmosphere and AIMS scores.

Sixth-graders will now be taught their core subjects - math, reading, science and social studies - in one classroom by one teacher, she said. It's important to use the elementary school model while allowing students to experience the junior high atmosphere by taking physical education and electives from different teachers, she said.

"It's kind of a baby step," Wolsey said. "But it will help to not overwhelm the students."

There is a plan to teach to common core standards, which are international standards the state hopes to fully implement in the next few years in order to get away from AIMS.

"Common core standards don't allow teachers to surface teach," Wolsey said.

The idea is that concepts - no matter what the subject - are interrelated. Instead of teaching a lesson and moving on,

See AIMS, 5

students will focus on concepts in their entirety. This allows students to take what they learned in math class and see how it applies in science class while writing about it in during language arts, Wolsey said.

Jacks said it's a way to reduce the scope of what needs to be taught in order to go deeper into the concepts, allowing the students to learn more and see how subjects fit together.

"In a way, it makes it easier for students to learn," Wolsey said.

Another change is the Cambridge Academy, the academic program students must apply for that prepares them for college and a career by increasing rigor and focusing on in-depth learning. The program starts at both the middle schools and at Lee Williams this year.

Lastly, the district was awarded a $278,000 a year Gear Up grant for Kingman Middle School, White Cliffs Middle School and Black Mountain School. Gear Up is a program that follows students from seventh-grade to the year after they graduate. During that time, students within the cohort are inundated with the idea that college is an attainable goal.

"It creates an atmosphere where students can say, 'College is for me,'" Wolsey said.

Gear Up keeps students on a college-bound track while also giving them a taste of what to expect, with visits to various colleges and visits from higher-education professionals.

"The programs we are using this year are designed to change the climate at the middle schools, which will eventually help our high schools," Jacks said.

Outside of the middle school issues, the district's report card is full of promise.

Mount Tipton came in with a B, despite all the drama associated with whether or not the school would remain open.

"They stayed the course during all the chaos," Jacks said. "They're out to prove that the restructuring of the school, (which started a couple years ago), will be a success."

Cerbat Elementary, which had a D for 2010-2011, vastly improved in 2011-2012 by bringing its grade to a B.

The school committed to techniques brought about by district intervention. Teachers and administrators tightened deficiencies by paying close attention to individual students and what they struggled with on a weekly basis.

When a student struggled with a particular concept, he or she was given prescriptive tutoring to help get him or her back on track, Wolsey said.

The school conducted 11 Saturday schools dedicated to tutoring and paid close attention to all the students. A full-fledged commitment to fixing the problem was evident throughout the year, Dorner said.

"We're not surprised they did well," Dorner said.

Hualapai Elementary received a B, which is similar to what it received last year.

"Hualapai is a very consistent school," Dorner said. "But now their goal is to move into the A category."

La Senita slipped from an A to a C, which surprised the district. La Senita used the same methods Cerbat used last year in 2010-2011, but after getting its A last year, administration relaxed, Jacks said.

"It's important to stay on top of strategy," Jacks said. "Individual student monitoring is critical."

Palo Christi and Manzanita brought in the only A's for the district.

The district expects A's from Manzanita because, in many ways, the school's commitment to individual student monitoring is a template the district would like to see used at all schools.

Palo Christi's improvement can best be seen in the amount of improvement experienced by students in the bottom 25 percent of performers the year before. The school ranked in the 73rd percentile when it comes to growth of its lowest performing students. That means less than 30 percent of the elementary schools in the state saw their bottom 25 percent grow as much as Palo Christi's bottom 25 percent.

Kingman High missed a B by two points, which is an improvement over the prior year. One of the best stories out of Kingman High this year is the fact that it lowered its dropout rate by 1.1 percent (25 fewer dropouts than the year before) and raised its graduation rate by 2 percent (23 more graduates than the year before).

Black Mountain received a C, but it ranked in the 51st percentile for student growth with the bottom 25 percent of students. It also had 68 percent of its students pass the math and reading portions of the test.

Overall, Jacks and Dorner said they're disappointed with the grades but are committed to bringing them up across the board.

"The largest challenge will be the two middle schools," Jacks said.

ICT - Mission Bank 233x388

Look for AIMS-focused stories on the Kingman Academy of Learning and Cedar Hills Elementary.

Related Stories:
• Kingman schools takes steps to bolster math skills
• 'D' rating sparks Kingman principal shuffle
• Chan: Kingman Academy can do better

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012
Article comment by: A Concerned Parent

I mean seriously the whole reason the schools do not have great grades is because the teachers are overwhelmed. Last year La Senita had enough teachers. This year there is a mixed kindergarten/1st grade, 3-1st grade classes that each have over 35 students, then a mix 1st/2nd grade class. And all the classes are like this at La Senita. It was fine last year but no KUSD had to open a new high school. But KUSD also needed another high school. I blame the freaking government. The principles and the teachers can only work with what they got. Parents need to take a stand and help out the teachers any way possible. I know I help and will continue this is the only way my child will succeed in school. Come on government help our school districts and cut what we pay senators/judges etc. If you cut their pay and put it towards the schools our children and their teachers would have the instruments to succeed.

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012
Article comment by: Elizabeth Burnett

The problem with the schools in kingman can be solved very easy. Bullying has risen in kingman over the last few years. the solution to decrease bullying is #1 get rid of school uniforms they are not helping. the kids have no sense of identity no outlet for expression. #2 reinstate the fear of the paddle in school.#3 stop rewarding the bullies by sending them home on a vacation. make them feel the effects of there actions, put a sign around there neck that says i like to be a jerk to other students and pick on people smaller then me. (embarrassment works wonders). as for test scores, teachers need a better system for updating parents on what homework to be expecting. and if they notice a student is falling behind or half the class for that madder maybe not move forward take an extra day to make sure they get it. make struggling student have to attend mandatory tutoring. there are easy solutions to make school a good experience for all if the teachers principles and parents really care.

Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Article comment by: Someone Save Kingman

The Jr. High's are awful in this town! It is so sad! Zero tolerance and discipline more protect our children! My child will never ever go back to KUSD! It is super sad! :(

Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Article comment by: Heather Yanke-Lunneberg

Ahron - your reporting on 'the middle schools of KUSD' does not include a breakdown of the middle school scores at Mt Tipton. I know for a fact that the MT sixth graders worked extremely hard during the year despite their lack of a certified teacher/teacher turnover at several points during the school year. It would bear reporting on their efforts, seeing as they too are a part of a middle school in KUSD. All too often Mt Tipton successes are overlooked, and in this case it was an effort by three schools combined (elementary, middle, and high) to attain the B grade. Please attempt to be all-inclusive with your coverage in the future.

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Parent Envolvement

I keep a close eye on what is happening in education. Like many of you, I've noticed that children today don't receive the same discipline and pressure to succeed that my generation did. As I see it teachers can only do so much. Who's fault is it that students don't do their homework? The students and their parents. Teacher's cannot go to every students house and make sure they do the homework assigned. Think of this analogy it's no more the dentist's fault when you get a cavity for lack of brushing, than it is the teacher's fault when you don't understand math because you don't do your homework.

Let's stop blaming the teachers and start blaming parents for letting their children watch tv, and play video before they do their homework. Parents need to stop pretending they're single 20-somethings and start playing a part in their children's education.

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Mark Schwarck

It's really simple, people. You have a superintendent that does this job as a second career (terrible situation although he's a nice guy...a lousy superintendent). Next, you have administrators that are extremely incompetent and have no idea how to really be effective, or run an effective and successful school district. Finally, you have some of the worst teachers I've ever seen. Even your "best" teachers here are mediocre at best and many couldn't get a ob teaching anywhere else. Well, maybe Nevada or New Mexico. Coming from Iowa, where education is valued and the system is much more effective, I was shocked coming here. It's like going back in time and to a land where people only complain, but rarely if ever, do anything about the situation. You people voted for the idiotic school board members that hire these idiots and make the policy decisions. The change needs to come from the top first. Your district and your students deserve better and if you parents and citizens cared as much about your schools as you would be taking action. Shame on all of you!

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Just Wondering

Years ago, there were no "middle schools. You attended grade school, 1st to 8th grade, then moved on to high school. And it worked until some "educator" got the bright idea to start a "pre-high school" program. Looking at the tests scores, maybe it's time to go back to the old way.

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: We Have an Excellent School District Let's Move to Impove It

Principals have a tremendous impact on the atmosphere of a school. If what was written is correct (that poor performance followed this principal), the superintendent and board must find somewhere else that the "skills" of this person can be utilized or terminate the employment.

Posted: Saturday, August 4, 2012
Article comment by: for a better kingman

These grades mean nothing. With the same teachers and administration, grades go from C one year to A the next, then back down. No rhyme or reason. But indeed the schools are horrible here.

Posted: Saturday, August 4, 2012
Article comment by: Paula Dreyer

Middle school is hard enough, and then they go and put the sixth graders in the jr. high schools.That was a bad move. Now you have sixth graders at the mercy of the older kids. I too have visited one of our middle schools and the way the kids act is unbelievable. Kids don't have the consequences for bad behavior like my generation used to. So they just do whatever they want. No wonder they can't focus on learning.

Posted: Saturday, August 4, 2012
Article comment by: KUSD Needs Total Re-Evaluation

KUSD schools are some of the worst I've seen. I've pulled my son out of the HS and now, my daughter, who will also do online school. I know there are SOME teachers who care out there because I talked to them on a regular basis and was kept totally informed of my children's progress by these few dedicated teachers. But, my son was bullied mercilessly and, when school administration continued to turn a blind eye to the entire situation, I pulled him out. My daughter has mild disabilities and I decided that subjecting her, at this time, as a new student in the high school and all of the pressures and crap that go into being a freshman, along with the absolute insensitivity that teenagers this age have, and the situation was a ticking time bomb. No, I'll continue to home-school my kids. KUSD has an incredibly LONG way to go before I would even consider allowing my daughter to return. My son is nearly done, so the system wouldn't likely recover enough for him. Sad too...he really wanted to graduate with his classmates, but he sees now that that won't likely happen. When I was growing up, it NEVER occurred to me that I wouldn't graduate with my friends. Never.....

Posted: Saturday, August 4, 2012
Article comment by: F.E. Velez

Let us look at this "concept in its's Entirety". The district moved the principle from KHS and the scores went up. Now this principle is at La Senita and the scores dropped like a rock. A few weeks ago this same principle was complaining about having a salary reduction. Maybe salaries should be tied directly to the grade each school recieves.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: They Don't Fall Far From the Tree

The progeny will be rotten as long as the source smells of vinegar.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: KM Z

Of Note: only four schools in the entire county received the "A" designation. A school in Colorado City, a school in Bullhead, and the two KUSD schools.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: Bullied, Harassed Threatened?

The libs of this country act as if this is something new. I am 58 and was far from the "tough guy", I put up with it. This is all part of growing up. "pecking order". The phrase comes from how chickens (the bird) chose the "pecking order". It is everywhere in nature and not the cause of failure. Parents that don't care or are "high" are the cause.
The "system" cannot replace parents.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: Leadership Problems

We had to withdraw our student from White Cliffs Middle school year before last. The bullying, fighting and disrespect there were overwhelming. The leadership was awful despite having good teachers who did their best to maintain order. When teachers are not supported by their Principal et al they cannot keep order because the bullies, bad kids and problem causers know there is little to no consequence for them. I am glad to see more attention being paid to the middle schools , in particular, and was not even mildly surprised that they received D's. Now, get busy and educate our children and throw the bad kids OUT. STRONG leadership is desperately needed.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: William Wallace

How about stimulating interest in science and math by providing kids with positive role models? Like Scots!!

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: Think about It

All of the students at the middle schools are not "bullied, harassed or threatened." Middle school is a tough age. They are full of hormones and trying to figure out what kind of person they are going to be. The scores will improve when the students themselves and their families decide to value education. The community needs to work together to foster the idea that hard work and learning are important, no matter what your future choices may be. The most successful schools have good parent involvement, students who WANT to learn, and teachers who do their best to give a quality education. @Former KUSD Teacher, I agree about class sizes. Our district needs to prioritize, and placing 3-4 more students per classroom (at all schools this year!) is NOT going to make things better. I don't know the right answer, but somehow the district needs to recruit and keep quality teachers, get parents involved with their kids' education, and motivate the students to want to succeed!

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: Big Duh

You know what? Kids that are bullied, harrassed and threatened every day by other students are not likely to perform well. The middle schools are apparently full of these thugs.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: Former KUSD Teacher

Consolidate, cut, merge administrative duties throughout the district. Transfer those funds into classrooms. Parent involvement, teacher proficiency, and class size need to be scrutinized.

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