Original URL: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/arizona/articles/0924failing24.html

200 schools will receive subpar label

By Pat Kossan
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 24, 2002 12:00:00

By Oct. 15, about 200 public schools will be branded
as "underperforming," the Arizona State Board of
Education decided Monday.

Those schools will be required to send the bad news
to parents and other taxpayers within their boundaries. Each of the schools also
must create a state-approved plan to improve and present it at a public meeting
by February.

On Oct. 7, state officials will begin letting about 1,132 schools know if they are
deemed "underperforming," "maintaining" or "improving." The new labels are
based on test scores, graduation and dropout rates, and improvement over the
past three years. Not all of Arizona's 1,800 schools, which includes charter
schools, will be judged. Some are too small, while others did not have data

The labeling is part of a national trend giving states the power to take over and
improve persistently failing campuses. If Arizona's "underperforming" schools
can't shake the label by next year, they'll be deemed "failing" and the state will
send in a team of experts to shape them up.

Board members admit to being worried about the next, and far more costly, step:
improving poor schools. They hope to recruit help from state education
associations and county school officials.

"We're not just here to set the bar," state board President Frank Alvarez said,
"but get (the schools) over the bar as well."

New federal laws and the sheer number of failing schools may force state officials
to revisit the plan within the year. Board members voted for the more lenient of
two formulas to determine how many schools hit the bottom of the list. They
opted for one that allows schools with uneven test scores, such as excelling on
writing but tanking in math, to get the more generous label of "maintaining."

Half will land in that category and 34 percent will be labeled "improving,"
meaning their scores are below par but are improving. No schools will earn the
"excelling" label.