Roosevelt School District Shows Big Improvement in Test Scores


South Phoenix's Roosevelt School District, historically one of the Valley's worst-performing districts, made an impressive gain in test scores in 2009.

The district announced today that students performed 9 percent better in math and 10 percent better in reading on the AIMS test. That puts the district in better standing, comparatively, with 20 of its 21 schools earning a "performing" tag and 13 of 21 (60 percent) earning the even better "performing plus" rating by the state.

Tom Horne, state schools superintendent (and "exploratory candidate" for state Attorney General), made a speech in 2005 in which he predicted a turnabout by now:

I am going to present the Board with one single thing to do. If it does it conscientiously, then within the next three years people all over the state will be talking about how well Roosevelt students are doing academically. Just one thing. Here it is:

Put all the energy you have into finding the very best instructional leader that you can find to be superintendent. Give him or her a three-year contract, with specific academic goals of percentage of students to be proficient at the end of the three years. Hold the superintendent accountable for meeting those goals within three years. Then, get out of his or her way. Here is the most important part: provide in the contract, and publicly pledge, that the superintendent will have full authority to hire and fire, and that neither the board nor any of its members will interfere in any way with any hiring or firing decisions.

This is not an easy pledge for any board member to make, unless all make it. As [a recent Arizona Republic] editorial stated, the district has long suffered from "rampant nepotism," and I believe that has been the most serious barrier preventing academic achievement.

We're not sure if that's exactly what went down, but results are results.

Here's the entire news release from the district:


Immediate Release 7/30/2009

Contact: Jason Williams (602) 910-0726
Roosevelt Elementary School District
6000 S. 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

Roosevelt Schools Improve Academically

Over 95% of Schools Earn "Performing" Label on Arizona Learns and

60% Are Rated "Performing Plus" by State Department of Education

Phoenix, AZ - Today, the Roosevelt Elementary School District held its annual welcome back ceremony at the South Mountain High School Auditorium. Over 700 educators were present for the announcement of the new AZ Learns labels, which are based on the 2009 AIMS tests scored by the Arizona Department of Education.

Over 60% (13 of 21) of Roosevelt's Schools earned the "performing plus" label while 95% (20 of 21) of the schools are "performing" or higher. On average across all grade levels tested (compared to 2008), for 2009 the District scored 9% better in math and 10% better in reading on the AIMS tests. These significant improvements in the core subjects demonstrate the District's commitment to student success in the classroom.

Superintendent Mary Bedya commented that "we are seeing the results of targeted academic instruction. I am extremely proud of everyone's hard work last year. I expect this trend of academic achievement in the Roosevelt School District to continue into 2010, and I am also excited for the upcoming school year because we have a lot of terrific programs planned for the students."

For instance, during the 2009-2010 school year, Roosevelt is implementing the Success for All reading program and continuing its Math Matters curriculum with Superintendent's Clubs at every school. More than twenty teachers went to Baltimore this summer to receive special training in the Success for All reading program. In addition, the District will be hosting an Arts Festival and many other interactive events with the community, such as parent lunches.

Even with the tough budget situation, the District is pleased to be bringing on about 70 new teachers this year. Several of them were trained at the highly regarded Teach For America National Institute hosted by Roosevelt during the last month. Roosevelt was one of only six national locations selected for this prestigious training opportunity.

During 2009-2010, the Roosevelt School District will pursue academic achievement for every student, professional development for all employees, and fiscal responsibility while developing a culture and climate of communication with the wider community.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.