Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0210phxgarfield.html

Garfield plan aims to hike state ranking
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 10, 2004 12:00 AM
Mel MelÚndez

PHOENIX - Most of Garfield Elementary School's students live near or below the poverty level and come from homes where parents don't speak English.

Today, school officials get to tell parents how they hope to surmount those challenges and lift the 550-student school out of its "underperforming" label. Garfield officials will unveil a 60-page School Improvement Plan, as required by the state, at a meeting at 6 tonight in the school's media center, 811 N. 13th St.

"The majority of our students are English-language learners," Principal Teresa Covarrubias said. "Forcing them to test in English is what resulted in our underperforming ranking."

About 150 schools, many of them packed with English-language learners and low-income students, received the onerous ranking that's largely based on test scores. The state requires schools to devise corrective action plans and to explain them to the public. Schools ranked underperforming two years in a row risk state takeover.

Garfield's plan calls for boosting students' flagging scores in writing, reading and math by 5 percent annually. It aims to do so with 10 programs, including early-intervention preschool, after-school tutoring, structured-English immersion and a literature-based diagnostic reading program.

"Immigrant parents often think that they can't help their kids because they don't speak the language. But that's not true," Covarrubias said.

"We show them how to get involved in their kids' schooling, so their children improve."

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