State briefs: Arizona health officials promote steps to counter Zika

Arizona health officials promote steps to counter Zika

PHOENIX (AP) – State officials are launching a campaign to encourage Arizona residents and visitors to take steps to counter the spread of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause devastating birth defects in pregnant women.

The Department of Health Sciences says it wants to build awareness about precautions such as removing standing water around homes, using insect repellant and wearing long sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors.

The department says there are nearly 60 travel-associated cases of Zika in Arizona but no locally acquired cases reported in the state.

Arizona Board of Education updates school grading system

PHOENIX (AP) – The Arizona Board of Education has restructured how public schools are graded.

Schools will still be rated based on A-F letter grades, but a new set of criteria will be used for both elementary and high schools, The Arizona Republic reported Monday.

Officials hope the new criteria shies away from an over-reliance on student test scores, although grades will still heavily incorporate standardized testing.

At the elementary level, one of the big changes is 10 percent of a school’s overall grade will come from a pool of “acceleration and readiness” measures. This will be partly determined by chronic absenteeism rates and how many third-grade students a school moves out of the lowest performance level, minimally proficient, on the reading portion of AzMERIT tests.

The two areas an elementary school’s grade mostly will come from are standardized test scores, at 30 percent, and individual improvements on those test scores at 50 percent.