The Arizona Department of Education has assigned letter grades for school districts statewide, with most earning a "B" - except for Tucson's two largest school districts, which both received a "C."

In years past, individual schools have been labeled but not school districts. Arizona schools chief John Huppenthal hopes that the grades will shine a light on "rock-star" school districts and galvanize others into action.

"Focusing beyond just schools at the district level allows parents and community members to hold district school boards accountable for all of their schools' results and for overall student performance," Huppenthal said Wednesday. "In turn, school boards will be better informed to hold their superintendents accountable."

The letter grades are part of a new A-F accountability system that was rolled out on Wednesday.

Of the nine major school districts in Pima County, Tucson Unified and Sunnyside received the lowest grades, "C."

The three local "A" school districts are Catalina Foothills, which has seven schools; Tanque Verde, which has four schools; and Vail, which serves students at 16 schools.

Amphitheater, Flowing Wells, Marana and Sahuarita were designated "B" schools.

None of the major districts in the Tucson area was given a "D."

To determine school district grades, aggregate scores are used from all of their qualifying schools.

Schools are evaluated equally on how many students are passing AIMS each year and how much students grow academically each year.

Other factors, like dropout rate, graduation rate and the reclassification rate of English-language learners are taken into consideration when applicable.

Over the coming weeks, the Arizona Department of Education will travel around the state to help educate teachers and administrators on how to use the information.


What's in a grade?

• "A" schools demonstrate an excellent level of performance.

• "B" schools demonstrate an above-average level of performance.

• "C" schools demonstrate an average level of performance.

• "D" schools demonstrate a below-average level of performance.

• "F" schools are those that rank as "D" schools for three consecutive years. "F" schools are placed under the school improvement process by the Arizona Department of Education so they can receive extra support and resources.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175.