All city high schools now meeting federal standards
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 29, 2005

Karina Bland
PHOENIX - Cesar Chavez, South Mountain and Central high schools are meeting federal standards for upping student test scores, according to a recent ruling by the state Department of Education.

The ruling reversed a previous designation that said the three schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress for 2005. Now all 11 of the city's high schools meet the mandates under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which tracks student progress nationwide using annual test scores.

To make Adequate Yearly Progress, schools must test 95 percent of their students and increase the overall percentage of students passing the state's annual AIMS exam, or Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards. Also, they must increase the percentage passing within smaller groups of students, such as students living in poverty or still learning English.

Elementary schools must have a 90 percent attendance rate and high schools a
71 percent graduation rate or be making progress toward that. If schools miss the mark in any one of the many categories, they fail. Schools failing for two years running face government intervention and possible loss of federal funds.

In September, the Phoenix schools were notified by state officials that they had failed, said Craig Pletenik, district spokesman. But district officials found discrepancies in the data and asked the state to review the matter.

At Chavez High, for example, failing hinged on just four students. The initial data showed that 94 percent of Anglo 10th-graders took AIMS, not the required 95 percent.

It turned out that two of the students listed as Anglo were Hispanic. One Anglo boy did not take the test, but a second did, though his results were not recorded for some reason.

With the boy's exam duly recorded, and the two Hispanic students correctly identified, the school did meet the required 95 percent of Anglo students taking AIMS.

Staff at Central High tracked down students who moved to new schools but had been listed as dropouts, which upped the school's rate.

And at South Mountain High, state records showed that eight students in special education did not take AIMS, though school officials and the students' parents had their test results.

It turned out that someone at the school filled out the student identification numbers incorrectly.