Local schools earn passing marks for Arizona LEARNS

Kingman area schools - with one exception - received good marks in Arizona LEARNS ratings released last week by the state Department of Education.

LEARNS stands for Leading Education through the Accountability and Results Notification System. It is a state plan created to fulfill the No Child Left Behind legislation's federal education requirements.

Manzanita Elementary received an excelling score to lead the way among schools in the Kingman Unified School District.

Excelling is the highest mark given to a school under the complex grading formula that looks at Terra Nova and Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards test results. That is followed, in order, by highly performing, performing plus, performing, underperforming and failing.

Marks are given only for grades 3, 5, 8 and 10. Second-graders in K-2 primary schools also are scored on Terra Nova results.

Mt. Tipton School in Dolan Springs, Black Mountain in Golden Valley, Cerbat, Hualapai, Palo Christi elementary schools, and White Cliffs and Kingman middle schools all earned 'performing' scores.

Kingman High was not assigned a grade for its sophomores and a call to the DOE for explanation was not immediately returned Friday.

La Senita Elementary was given an underperforming score.

KUSD Superintendent Maurice Flores said that school missed a performing grade by 1/10 point and the district is appealing it.

"English Language Learner students did not quite make the grade there and we tested them all," Flores said.

"Our appeal is based on holding kids to an unreasonable standard. If you're in this country for one year, you must test, and that's like asking someone to go to China for a year and take their test."

The district is looking into the possibility of adding the Rosetta Stone program for ELL students at KHS and La Senita. KHS has seen a nearly 400 percent rise in Latino students, going from 9-11 during the 2005-06 school year to 42 during 2006-07, Flores said.

"Rosetta is a computer language-based program in which you may see, for example, the word 'cup.' It also gives a format for it in Spanish."

"A lot of students coming into the district don't know basic words like 'go' or 'come' that most children learn prior to kindergarten. This starts them at that level and develops into an extensive language program."

Flores added that KMS initially was assigned an underperforming grade based on the number of students tested. The district appealed it and got the mark changed to the next higher category of performing.

ELL is part of the LEARNS scoring formula for the first time.

Kingman Academy of Learning Primary School got an excelling mark. The district's high, middle and intermediate schools all were rated as performing plus.

"Only the second grade takes the Terra Nova test, so that's where the majority of scoring came from in our primary school," Director Betty Rowe of the KAOL said.

"Other schools take Terra Nova, and a sophisticated point system calculates numbers and pulls them together to give ratings. If a school is excelling one year, it may not the next because the state raises the bar and more is expected."

"We're pleased with what our teachers did with AIMS testing. I would add that in our fourth grade, only three children did not meet requirements, and that's something you don't find at many grade levels."

Eagle Academy, a charter school in Golden Valley, received performing marks for its third-, fifth-, eighth- and tenth-grade classes for 2007. Those were the same marks as received for each grade in 2006, Principal Mary Stuart said.

"We're happy to be performing, but our goal is to move on to the next level," she said. "To that end, we're looking at each group and seeing where the needs are and then focusing targeted instruction there."

A news release from the state DOE states 386 schools received excelling marks. Totals in other categories were 230 highly performing, 448 performing plus, 695 performing, 147 underperforming and 17 failing.