Not all charters make grade in Pima County

2013-08-03T00:00:00Z 2014-08-04T13:48:17Z Not all charters make grade in Pima CountyJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

More than half of Pima County's charter schools received an A or B. But that bit of good news is offset by more than 25 percent of charters receiving Ds.

The higher number of A or B schools reflects a statewide trend that shows charters rating comparably to their school district counterparts in the latest edition of the Arizona Department of Education's grades, which measures how well schools perform year to year.

The state Department of Education released the grades Thursday.

Statewide, about 19 percent of charter schools improved by at least one grade, compared with 22 percent of district schools, said Ildi Laczko-Kerr, vice president of academics with the Arizona Charter Schools Association.

In Pima County, 53 percent of charter schools received an A or a B, compared to 58 percent of district schools, Laczko-Kerr said.

"That's moving in the steady direction in terms of improving school accountability results," Laczko-Kerr said.

The results also show an increase in traditional charter schools in Pima County. But that increase is largely due to new state standards that categorize schools based on the number of a school's test records instead of student enrollment.

As a result, about 20 schools that were once considered small charters were moved into the traditional category in 2012-13.

Overall, there were 66 traditional charters in 2012-13, compared with 39 in the previous year.

For last year, there were 36 schools with an A or B in Pima County, but 17 schools that earned a D.

Ten schools received a C while three were not rated.

The majority of the schools reclassified as traditional charters either retained the same grade or improved.

Some of the reclassified schools that showed the biggest improvement included Edge High School Northwest, which jumped from a D to a B.

The Adventure School and The Montessori Schoolhouse, both of which serve preschool and elementary students, improved from from a B to an A.

Arizona College Prep Academy, which opened as a separate charter high school last year, received an A in its first year

The program operated for many years as part of Amerischools Academy.

The college-prep program had received either an A or excelling label since 2006, said Charlene Mendoza, Arizona College Prep Academy principal and founder.

"Although we're excited, it's an expectation we have of ourselves," Mendoza said. "We've been committed to building an excelling program in Tucson. That's why we exist."

On StarNet: Check out the letter grades databases for schools and districts or charter holders at azstarnet.com/databases

How charters fared

Traditional charter school grades in Pima County:

Grade Number of schools

A 23

B 13

C 10

D 17

Not Rated - 3

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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