School grades graphic

Local students received their final 2018-2019 academic year grades months ago. Their schools had to wait a bit longer.

Last Monday, Oct. 28, the Arizona State Board of Education released its annual school ratings for the past school year, which include an overall letter grade based in large part on students’ performance on the AzMERIT standardized tests.

Across Santa Cruz County, three schools received A grades: Bracker Elementary, Mexicayotl Charter School and Coronado Elementary.

“Coronado is consistent year after year and a model for the rest of our schools. We are extremely proud,” Fernando Parra, superintendent of the Nogales Unified School District, wrote in an email.

Ratings for local high schools remained unchanged from 2018: Nogales and Patagonia Union high schools both earned B’s and Rio Rico High School got a C.

An A grade means that the school’s performance during the 2018-2019 school year was “excellent,” a B grade means “highly performing,” a C grade means “performing,” D means “minimally performing” and F is “failing,” according to the board of education.

For K-8 schools, the grade is determined by factors including student proficiency as measured by AzMERIT, growth, and English Language Learners’ ability.

High school grades also take into account graduation rate and college and career readiness.

Three county schools improved their scores from 2018: Bracker Elementary, Calabasas K-8 and Patagonia Elementary.

Desert Shadows Middle, Wade Carpenter Middle, Lincoln Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, San Cayetano Elementary, Little Red School and Montessori de Santa Cruz all saw their grades decline.

In the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District, all five schools improved their ratings in the English Learner Proficiency and Growth categories, according to a news release sent by the district. Rio Rico High School also improved its marks college and career readiness.

“We are committed to making our district the very best in Arizona. Improving our students’ proficiency and growth on state assessments is one of our strategies for achieving this,” SCVUSD Superintendent David Verdugo said in the release.

At NUSD, Parra pointed out that Nogales High School has a 98 percent graduation rate, putting it near the top of state rankings.

And Pierson High School, which did not get a letter grade from the state in 2017 and 2018, earned a B in 2019.

While the school grades were publicly released for the first time last week, they weren’t a major surprise for school officials.

“Our system allows us to project our scores well in advance so we have been working on improvements since July,” Assistant Superintendent Stephen Schadler said in the SCVUSD news release.

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