Why Tucson Unified school letter grades improved while test scores dropped during pandemic

Superintendent says there’s still a lot of work to do
KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 6:53 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - New details are in tonight on Tucson Unified’s effort to rebound from the pandemic.

The district’s recent letter grades show improvement in most schools, but they don’t spell out the entire story.

The superintendent said a lot of work still needs to be done.

Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo held a media briefing this afternoon on the school letter grades.

Many schools showed considerable improvement jumping one to three letter grades this year.

But there have been questions about how that’s possible when state standardized test scores dramatically dropped across the board during the pandemic.

Trujillo explained that the letter grades are based more on academic growth, than proficiency, meaning schools that made a quicker recovery were given higher grades.

“A lot of reasons to celebrate here. It’s a testament to the work we’re doing in the district. But if you look at the proficiency rates we still acknowledge we have a long way to go as there is with the state of Arizona at large. We do continue on a positive trajectory,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo pointed out that the proficiency level is still below the state average, but they outpaced the state in improvement.

He says the infusion of federal school relief funding brought in more reading and math interventionists, but now he’s working on the plan to keep them when the funds run out.

Currently, there are eight “D” schools and one “F” school.

He said those schools had struggled even before the pandemic and now extra state and district efforts are underway to help get their grades up next school year.