Four Tucson-area schools received their third successive D grades and are in danger of being labeled failing.

The grades are issued by the Arizona Department of Education to measure how well schools are performing year to year. Three successive D’s qualifies a school for an F. This is the first year schools are at risk of being labeled failing since the letter grades were first issued in 2011.

The grades for the 2012-13 school year, along with AIMS test scores for the year, were released by the Arizona Department of Education this morning

However, in releasing the 2012-13 data this morning, the department did not label any schools as failing, saying some are appealing their “F” designation so no final decision will be made until the appeals are complete.

But a review of this school letter grades for this year and the two previous years by the Arizona Daily Star identified schools earning Ds three years in a row in Tucson’s largest school districts — TUSD and Sunnyside respectively. They are:

• Catalina High Magnet School in the Tucson Unified School District

• Los Ranchitos Elementary School in the Sunnyside Unified School District

• Apollo Middle School in the Sunnyside Unified School District

• Sierra Middle School in the Sunnyside Unified School District

If, in the end, the schools are given grades of F, they will have to go through a school improvement process as determined by the ADE.

Three other TUSD schools fell into the triple-D category — Carson and Hohokam middle schools and Howenstine High School, but they are no longer in danger of being labeled failing since the Governing Board voted to close them in December.

The state-issued report cards are not all bad. In fact, in Tucson and across Arizona, there are more A and B schools than there were last year and fewer C and D schools.

“The majority of Arizona schools are doing quite well,” said Arizona Schools Chief John Huppenthal, noting that 63 percent of schools across the state are receiving A or B labels. “Arizona’s schools are improving. In fact, we found over 300 schools improved a letter grade over last year.”

Grades are based on the weighting of student performance on the high-stakes AIMS test and student academic growth from year to year. Additional points are awarded for high English-Language Learner reclassification rates and significant reductions in dropouts.

Read more about school grades and student scores on the AIMS test in Friday’s Arizona Daily Star.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.