TUSD gets high marks in national evaluation

2014-01-13T00:00:00Z TUSD gets high marks in national evaluationAlexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

TUSD gets high marks in open enrollment

The Tucson Unified School District ranked No. 9 among 107 large school districts in the nation for its open enrollment policies and practices.

The rankings for the Education Choice and Competition Index were released Wednesday by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.

The district ranked No. 1 in areas including transportation services, offering alternatives to address-based school assignments (such as magnet schools), closing schools with low attendance and having easily accessible information online.

TUSD also earned points for having a lottery system for open enrollment, providing virtual courses that count toward graduation and offering a variety of courses and learning resources to all students.

The index, however, found that the district needed improvement in the category of “popularity of schools reflected in funding.”

That category focuses on the idea that both funding and management processes should favor growth of popular schools at the expense of unpopular schools — meaning a school that has lost half of its students shouldn’t have the same amount of funding it always has.

The Education Choice and Competition Index is designed to create awareness of the role school choice plays in education reform.

Former Tucsonan Villegas wins Rodel

A Tucson native now living and teaching in Flagstaff was named a 2014 Rodel Exemplary Teacher.

Veronica Villegas, who at one time taught in the Tucson Unified School District, was honored for her work as a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Sinagua Middle School in the Flagstaff Unified School District.

Villegas has been in education for 11 years — a calling that came after 14 years of working in hotel and restaurant management, she told the Arizona Daily Sun .

“I just feel like this is my purpose,” Villegas said. “When I was working in restaurants, I was making money but I wasn’t happy. I just knew I needed some more purpose in my life.”

The Rodel award honors teachers based on their outstanding student achievement in high-need schools, their ability to mentor new teachers and the recommendation of their principals.

For Villegas, the key to high student achievement is having high expectations for all children and making sure they have high expectations of themselves, making data-driven decisions and collaborating with her colleagues and community partners to gain different education perspectives.

“It gives me a new outlook on how to teach, how students learn and how I can do better,” Villegas said. “Teaching is not done single-handedly. We learn from each other, and this helps us to support our students.”

Vail district sets three education town halls

The Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce is holding education town hall meetings over the next several weeks.

The mission of the meetings is to hear the community’s expectations regarding education in Vail.

Meetings will run 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the following days:

  • Thursday at Corona Foothills Middle School, 16705 S. Houghton Road.
  • Jan. 23 at Mesquite Elementary School, 9455 E. Rita Road.
  • Jan. 27 at Old Vail Middle School, 13299 E. Colossal Cave Road.

Academy open houses

The Academy of Tucson Schools will be hosting open houses at all three of its campuses Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. for prospective students and parents.

The schools are:

  • The Academy of Tucson Elementary School (grades K-4), 9209 E. Wrightstown Road.
  • The Academy of Tucson Middle School (grades 5-8), 7310 E. 22nd St.
  • The Academy of Tucson High School (grades 9-12), 10720 E. 22nd St.

Compiled by Alexis Huicochea. Contact Alexis at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

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