This year, according to the Arizona Department of Education, 386 of 1,927 schools in the state are "excelling" - a 20 percent increase from 2006. Ninety-three percent of Ahwatukee Foothills elementary, middle and high schools fall in this top category, with only one of the 14 schools in the community labeled "highly performing," which is one step below excelling. Kyrene School District Ahwatukee schools labeled excelling are Cerritos, Colina, Esperanza, Estrella, Lagos, Milenio, Monte Vista, Sierra, Akimel A-al, Altadena and Centennial. Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School was labeled highly performing. "In general I am very pleased with this year's results," said Kyrene School District Superintendent David Schauer. "When you look at the percent of excelling schools in other districts, I believe we have the most schools that are excelling. Naturally I'd like to see all 25 excelling." Both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools were labeled excelling. AZ Learns provides school achievement profiles for each school in the state by examining each school's overall performance. To determine a school's label, three components are considered for a total of 27 possible points. First, students' AIMS scores are reviewed for reading, writing and mathematics. This component is worth 18 points. Second, the state reviews Measure of Academic Progress reports, which reflects student growth in the past three years. This component is worth eight points. Lastly, Adequate Yearly Progress reports are reviewed for one point. Excelling schools received 19 to 27 of the possible points. Highly performing schools received 16 to 18.9 of the possible 27 points. No Ahwatukee Foothills schools were labeled Performing Plus, a ranking for schools that did not meet the criteria for number of students that exceed the standard for Excelling or Highly Performing but received 16 to 27 points, Performing (13 to 15.9 points) or Underperforming (less than 13 points). However, this year, for the first time, English Language Learners (ELL) was part of the AZ Learns formula for evaluating schools. Although 113 schools in the state were able to earn an extra point on their AZ Learns profile by educating at least 30 percent of their ELL's to the point where they could pass the English Proficiency Test, Ahwatukee Foothills schools did not make the cut. Corinne Frayer can be reached at (480) 898-7917 or

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