Thunderbolt taken off state "intervention" list

It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Lake Havasu Unified School District and its lone middle school in the wake of receiving a failing letter grade from the Arizona State Board of Education.

Monday district officials say while the “preliminary” F grade is still being considered, Thunderbolt Middle School has been removed from the list of Comprehensive Support and Intervention schools.

Beginning this school year, the state has identified schools for comprehensive support and improvement, which triggers state intervention, for schools in the bottom 5 percent of assessment based on AzMERIT test scores.

Schools, including Thunderbolt, which received a failing grade were initially included on the list of identified schools requiring improvement, but as of Monday they have been removed, “for now,” said Diana Asseier, LHUSD superintendent.

“From my interpretation, is the state board removed any F schools that were not in the bottom 5 percent pending the revision of the formula and recalculation of the grades,” Asseier said.

Although the bottom 5 percent of schools – scoring 13 percent or less on the state standardized test – will remain on the intervention list – it is unclear if state statute that mandates F schools also be considered as a school requiring improvement will stand.

Because the state board considers the first release of grades early last month as preliminary, deciding to tweak portions of the formula, it is unknown if Thunderbolt will be safe from state intervention.

“In the first year, had we remained on the list, we would have received (Intervention) support and technical assistance,” Asseier said. “This would have included onsite visits and onsite monitoring, and a bunch of reporting along with redoing our needs assessment.”

Prior to the removal from the intervention list, the state decided not to force the school district to redo its needs assessment completed in August, saying it was strong enough. This assessment identifies strengths and weeknesses at district campuses in six areas that included student data, attendence, disipline and teacher evaluation.

As of Monday the state has temporatly canceled onsite visits to Thunderbolt pending the release of final grades.

At its December board meeting, the state board of education will provide policy and technical guidance to the newly formed Technical Advisory Committee for modeling needed to finalize formula revisions. Final letter grades for school year 2016-17 will be issued and a timeline for appeals of the final letter grades will be announced.

 

by David Louis, Today's News-Herald
Oct 27, 2017