Ahwatukee Foothills students performed above state averages in the 2010 Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards results.

All district and charter schools in Ahwatukee had a higher percentage of students pass the math, reading, writing and science portions of the test than the state averages, with the exception of one school's writing scores, according to data released by the state Department of Education earlier this month.

Reading scores improved across the state in grades 3 through 5, and science improved slightly in all grades. However, math scores dropped, which a news release from the Department of Education attributed to higher test standards.

That's a trend the Tempe Union High School District noticed as well, dropping from a 81 percent pass rate in 2009 to a 73 percent pass rate in 2010, said Maja Aleksic, director of assessment and accountability for the district.

"Because it's a new test matched to new Arizona standards, it's a more rigorous test, so I think the drop is expected," Aleksic said.

Also, the Tempe district fared better than the state average even in that area - the statewide drop was from 73 percent passing to 58 percent passing, Aleksic said. Locally, 86 percent of Desert Vista High School students and 69 percent of Mountain Pointe High School students passed the math portion of the test.

The Kyrene School District also fared well in math, with 78 percent of students passing the new math standards district wide. That did represent a decrease from last year, which the district's testing department attributes to the tougher standards, said district spokeswoman Kelly Alexander.

"We did anticipate that the scores would go down somewhat this year," Alexander said.

Kyrene still performed above the state average in all areas, which is typical for the district, Alexander said.

Getting those scores may mean this year's test is officially over for students, but the work has only begun in school and district offices. While the public gets to see pass rates by grade level, districts get a much more detailed breakdown of how subgroups of students did not only on sections of the test, but specific content areas.

"That allows us not only to say our kids aren't doing well in math, but they're not doing well in number sense," Aleksic said, describing a hypothetical example. "That's a lot more useful for a math teacher."

That detailed information, in turn, lets individual schools look at how they can improve content to better reach students, Aleksic said.

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