The Re-1 district received the “priority improvement” rating in October for the sixth year in a row. “Priority improvement is the second-lowest in the state department’s five-level rating system. According to state Senate Bill 163, passed in 2009, districts and schools can spend five consecutive years at the two lowest tiers — “priority improvement” and “turnaround” — before they face consequences and intervention from the state. This countdown is referred to as the “accountability clock.”
Though the district won’t get a higher rating, Montezuma-Cortez High School and Cortez Middle School were granted requests to be redesignated at the “insufficient data” rating. M-CHS previously had been rated “priority improvement,” and CMS was rated at “turnaround,” the lowest rating.
Both schools were granted the “insufficient data” rating because they had a high number of students who opted out of state standardized testing. Just 23 percent of M-CHS students took the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) algebra assessment during the 2015-16 school year, and 26 percent took the English and language arts test.
At Tuesday’s Montezuma-Cortez board meeting, Superintendent Lori Haukeness said district staff will continue efforts to turn the district around.
“We feel the momentum and the work we are doing is the right work,” she said.
The district is participating in a University of Virginia turnaround program that has been administered in schools around the district. School officials also have started formulating a pathway for improvement, which is required by the state for districts at the end of the accountability clock.