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Elementary schools meet, exceed on AIMS
Written by Lu Stitt   
Wednesday, 01 August 2007 12:49

The two upper Verde Valley elementary school districts fared better than the state in the 2007 Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards scores in reading, writing and math.

However, the two districts were either equal to or slightly behind Yavapai
County’s scores.

“We almost always do better than the state and just a bit behind the county,” Barb U’Ren, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District superintendent, said.

One reason she cited was that the AIMS looks at the percent of free and reduced lunches. The county is approximately 44 percent, but COCSD is 57 percent

“That’s not an excuse but we look to find a reason and see where we need to focus our efforts,” she said. “For the most part all of our students showed growth over last year.”

Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School District’s superintendent Kathleen Fleenor almost echoed U’Ren’s sentiment.

“We did well on both AIMS and TerraNova. The majority of all our students scored in the meets or exceeds category. Overall looking at all grade levels and all areas we did better than last year,” Fleenor said.
TerraNova is another standardized test.

For example, in reading, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District third-grade students scored 77 percent of students meeting or exceeding the AIMS, compared with 69 for the state and 73 for the county.
In writing, the state reported 81

percent, the county 85 percent and COCSD 79 percent. Math came in at 72 percent for COCSD third-grade students, which the state score was 76 percent and 76 percent in the county.

In Clarkdale, the same grade level had scores of 91, 95 and 100 for reading, math and writing, respectively.

In the eighth-grade classes, those students who are headed to high school in August, Clarkdale scored 75 percent in reading, 87 percent in writing and 89 percent in math, while COCSD scores were 64, 72 and 64 percent for reading, writing and math, respectively.

The state scores were 63 percent, 73 percent and 61 percent for reading, writing and math, respectively.

Yavapai County’s percentages for eighth-grade reading, writing and math were 70 percent, 76 percent and 67 percent, respectively.

“Teachers get together at each grade level to see what we can do to beef up areas that need attention. You really scramble to get these little guys reading writing and doing math,” Fleenor said.

U’Ren attributes some of the higher scores in reading to a program begun at the district about four years ago, Reading Mastery.

Cottonwood Middle School — teaching sixth, seventh and eighth grades — will begin a new program for writing.

“We’re instituting Step Up to Writing. It really focuses on the structure,” U’Ren said.

COCSD analyzed the scores a bit further by comparing the past four years and how the same group of students scored from one year to the next.

For example, this year’s fifth-grade students who were fourth-grade students in 2006 raised their reading score from 63 percent to 69 percent, but dropped in writing from 58 percent in 2006 to 52 percent in 2007.

Math scores also dropped slightly from 68 percent to 67 percent.

Eighth-grade students dropped in each of the three categories from 2006 as seventh-graders to 2007.

Reading was 64 percent compared to 68 percent, writing came in 72 percent compared with 81 percent and math dropped to 64 percent from 68 percent. The results showed a drop from one year to the next.

“We’re trying to analyze why that is. We have not done that traditionally. Usually they increase their scores. Different test, more mobile class? We’re going to look at that closely to find a reason and do what we need to to bring those scores back up,” U’Ren said. “Yet, on the TerraNova scores for that group grew 2 percent.”

Another measurement for elementary school through middle school is the TerraNova National, which gives a national comparison. For third through eighth grade, the TerraNova is imbedded within the AIMS, U’Ren said.
Second-grade students do not take the AIMS, but they do get tested in the TerraNova. The ideal is to have all students rank at above the 50th percentile.

Clarkdale’s second grade students scored 69.4 percent in reading, 76 percent in language and 66 percent in math. Cottonwood-Oak Creek had scores for second grade of 48 percent in reading, 46 percent in language and 51 percent in math.


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