Primary and Secondary Education

  • Sierra Vista Public School District (SVPS) – consists of one high school, two middle schools, and six elementary schools. 
  • Fort Huachuca Accommodation Schools (FHAS) – consists of one middle school and two elementary schools.
  • Charter Schools – In addition, Sierra Vista has five charter schools.
  • Tombstone Unified School District (TUSD) – consists of one high school, and two elementary schools.

Post-secondary Education Opportunities

Most local schools make the grade, Benson bests them all
By Adam Curtis – Sierra Vista The Herald

SIERRA VISTA— Out of 53 traditional schools getting state labels in Cochise County, eight have received “As” from the state, including all three of the ones in the Benson Unified School District, which was named the top performing district in the state.

Announced along with the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) scores at a press conference in Phoenix on Thursday, the state labels show that Pueblo Del Sol Elementary School, Valley View Elementary School, Coronado Elementary School, San Simon School and one of the Center of Academic Success Schools also received the top letter grade of “A.” Just two schools — Joyce Carlson Elementary School and Ray Borane Middle School, both in Douglas — got “Ds,” while no “Fs” have been issued by the state yet, though some labels are still be evaluated.

Benson Superintendent David Woodall attended the press conference, representing the state’s highest academically performing district.

“I am very, very proud of our staff, school board and student body,” Woodall told the Herald/Review. “These labels and the positive results we’re seeing now represent four years of deliberate, intentional steps with a focus on our academic practices. The results were not immediate and were not an overnight fix. Last year we missed an ‘A’ label by a couple of points, which was disappointing for us.”

In addiiton to its three traditional schools, Benson’s alternative high school also received an “A” rating.

Woodall credits Vail School District for sharing its successful curriculum and instructional practices with Benson.

“This allowed us to work on refining quality instructional practices rather than having to create them,” Woodall said.

All told, about 60 more schools statewide received “A” grades this year, according to a release from the Arizona Department of Education.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal said more than 300 schools improved their letter grades, while some fell a grade. Now, 63 percent of the state’s schools have either a “B” or “A” label.

In Cochise County, more than 60 percent of the traditional schools listed by the state have garnered a label of “B” or better. The labels are based on students’ performance on the state assessment, with an emphasis on improvement.

Sierra Vista schools
The Sierra Vista Unified School District saw two of its schools improve in letter grade, while two others came up just one point shy in the state’s scoring system.

Pueblo Del Sol Elementary School improved from a “B” to and “A,” fulfilling a concerted effort on the part of the school staff, said Terri Romo, who was principal at the school and is now the district’s director of curriculum.

“Their collaboration is incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Romo said. The school has phenomenal teachers with a real focus on making sure students are taught what they need to know for the test.

Town and Country Elementary School received the district’s only “C” rating, coming up just one point shy of a “B” for the second year in a row, said Romo, who served as principal of that school two years ago.

Carmichael Elementary School improved from a “C” to a “B,” while Bella Vista Elementary School came just one point away from earning an “A.”

Buena High School and Joyce Clark Middle School both received a “B” but failed to meet their annual measurable objectives (AMO), due to the failure of small subgroups of students at the schools. These objectives dictate whether the district is in compliance with federal education benchmarks.

As for Sierra Vista charter schools, the Center for Academic Success (CAS) saw one school improve from a “B” to an “A,” another drop from a “B” to a “C,” and a third stay at a “C.” Only three CAS schools were listed on the state’s results and they were not listed by grade level.

Imagine Charter School maintained a “C” label.

Palominas Elementary School District
Two of the district’s three schools received “A” labels, while Palominas Elementary School maintained a “B.”

For Coronado Elementary School this is the third consecutive year it has gotten a top label, while Valley View Elementary School upgraded from a “B.”

“It’s exciting to see the students be so successful,” Superintendent Steve Poling said. It’s a reflection of all the hard work of the district’s staff and also its parents.

Coronado Principal Marylotti Copeland said her staff attributed the school’s continued success to collaboration, shared leadership and collective responsibility.

“Collective responsibility comes from our belief that all students are the responsibility of all staff members. Additionally, the teachers hold one another accountable for the implementation of programs and curriculum with fidelity,” she said, in an email. “It truly embodies teamwork to successfully implement the Coronado Way!”

Everyone at Valley View is hugely proud of their new “A” rating, said Gabe Ortiz, principal.

“It reflects the hard work and professionalism of our teaching staff, our support staff and, of course, our students and their families. We also attribute our success to the support we receive from the district leadership team and the community,” he said, in an email. “At Valley View, we constantly assess our students’ needs and provide immediate feedback to ensure we maximize our student’s learning potential. Now that we have attained this honor, the work will continue to uphold our high standards each and every year and to continue to provide a supportive learning environment to the children we serve.”

Fort Huachuca Accommodation School District
Col. Smith Middle School improved from a “C” to “B” this year, while General Myer Elementary School held its “B” rating.

Superintendent Bonnie Austin said, “We are pleased with our district’s school scores. Having said that, our teachers and staff are committed to continually improving the academic achievement of our students.”

The middle school had an increase of 17 points — a combined score of the growth points and the composite points — from last year she said.

“That took strategic planning and focus on the part of administration, teachers, students and parents. Targeted intervention strategies were put into place that focused on individual student needs and strengths,” Austin said.

However, there was an issue of concern “that some of our students are not counted into the school letter grade due to them moving into our district after the first 10 days of the school year and are not considered FAY (Full Academic Year) students,” Austin said, in an email.

A petition was filed with the Accountability Office of the Arizona Department of Education “as we feel it was unfair to our military families and was not in line with the Interstate Compact,” the superintendent said, adding,”The department did not agree.”

Tombstone Unified School District
All three of the district’s schools received “B” labels this year, with Tombstone High School missing an “A” by two points. The high school received 138 points, followed by Walter J. Meyer School with 137 and Huachuca City School with 130.

“I am very pleased with the results this year,” said District Superintendent Karl Uterhardt. “The points at three of our campuses have come up this year and I really believe we’ll raise our scores even more next year.”

The district has taken extra remedial steps to help struggling students and the results of those efforts are showing, Uterhardt said.

“There’s always room for improvement and of course we would love to be receiving ‘A’ labels for all three campuses. But the improvements we’re seeing are encouraging and district wide, we’re pleased with the results.”

Bisbee Unified School District
The district’s high school stayed the course with a “C” rating, while its other two schools showed change, one for the better and one for the worse.

Greenway Elementary School received a “B,” after getting a “C” last year. Lowell Junior High School got a “C,” taking a step down from last year’s “B.”

Herald/Review reporters Bill Hess and Dana Cole contributed to this article.