The Arizona Business & Education Coalition (ABEC) recently celebrated the 196 schools that made the National Center for Educational Achievement (NCEA) 2011 list of Arizona Higher Performing Schools. This school recognition is one piece of a partnership with NCEA, a department of ACT, Inc.  and the Arizona Department of Education, facilitated by ABEC and enthusiastically sponsored by Greater Phoenix Leadership, Helios Education Foundation, GearUP! Arizona, and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

NCEA’s researchers use a statistical model that identifies value-added effects of schools to identify and celebrate higher performing schools, then study and inform best practices from their success and provide online resources so that more schools can be inspired and improve.

In order to identify college and career readiness targets on the AIMS test, a study was conducted by the NCEA comparing the AIMS test scores and the ACT benchmarks for CCR and backward mapped to 3rd grade, the first grade in which the AIMS test is given. Thanks to this study, Arizona now has CCR target scores on AIMS (see chart below). A student achieving the CCR target score on AIMS is on the ramp to college and career readiness.

Schools can make the Higher Performers list two ways:  growth of student achievement  or absolute level of achievement of students. Out of 1,544 schools that qualified for the evaluation, 183 schools are advancing their students toward college and career readiness in one or more content areas (i.e., reading and science) in all grades tested.  Thirteen schools are Arizona All Subject Higher Performers, outperforming their peers in every content area and every grade tested.  We congratulate:

  • Alhambra Elementary School District’s James W. Rice Primary School, Granada Primary School, Sevilla Primary School, Westwood Primary School;
  • Crane Elementary Schools District’s H.L. Suverkrup Elementary School
  • Ganado Unified School  District’s Ganado Primary School
  • Glendale Union High School District’s Sunnyslope High School, Washington High School, Moon Valley High School
  • Mary Ellen Halvorson Educational Foundation’s Tri-City College Prep High School,
  • Paradise Valley  Unified School District’s Grayhawk Elementary School
  • Scottsdale Unified School District’s Pima Elementary School
  • Tucson Unified School District’s University High School

All stakeholders can go to to find NCEA’s College and Career Readiness analyses and charts for Arizona schools (grades 3-12). These charts show the percentage of students meeting expectations on AIMS, compared to the percentage scoring at college and career readiness.   The analyses compare demographically similar schools because research shows that poverty is correlated with performance.  Schools are grouped for comparison to identify those that are breaking that trend and which provide examples of effective practices.

Schools serving similar students can learn from each other through collaboration and sharing the ideas that actually work. The next step for the partnership: NCEA/ACT and ADE will partner on research on Arizona schools.

Susan Carlson is the Executive Director of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition.