Dysart Unified School District showing success in enrollment, staffing

By Jennifer Jimenez, SPECIAL TO INDEPENDENT

Enrollment in the Dysart Unified School District is increasing, and high school data is showing proof of success with staffing vacancies.

That’s according to data from the end of the 2018-19 school year that the DUSD Governing Board heard during its Aug. 28 meeting.

Coincidently, the enrollment numbers reported from the first day of school are the same as they were in 2017-2018, with 23,318 reporting, but that number has since gone up.

“First week comparisons show the numbers at 23,563 ­— plus 244 students added in one week — bringing the total to 23,701 as of [last week],” said Assistant Superintendent for Human Relations John Croteau. “There’s 383 more students in the district than what we started with the first day and we continue to monitor those numbers daily.”

The district’s preschool programs have shown significant growth with an enrollment at nearly 1,050 kids.

Exceptional Student Services Preschool, 15802 N. Parkview Place, currently has 801 students, while the newly opened Growing Minds Preschool, 17999 W. Surprise Farms Loop S, is home to 247 little ones.

“I am excited about the preschool numbers,” Board member Traci Sawyer-Sinkbeil said. “I know they are still coming, and it’s going to be fabulous.”

In the area of staffing, DUSD hired 370 employees since May 23. At the elementary level, there are 25 remaining teacher vacancies and six at the high school level.

Board Member Christine A.K. Pritchard said she was impressed by the low number of high school teaching vacanices.

High grad rates

For the 2018-19 school year, Shadow Ridge High School, 10909 N. Perryville Road, finished with a 96% graduation rate, followed by Dysart and Willow Canyon with 94% each, and Valley Vista at 93%, which is the district average for graduating seniors.

“There are new things in place for seniors and since last spring when we first talked about accountability for seniors,” said Shelley Isai, administrator for curriculum, instructor and assessment.

Ms. Isai said the College and Career Readiness Indicator points to the board from this year’s data. Saying points are given through academics and Career and Technical Education, and the district’s goal is to get as many points as possible.

“The most notable is the jump in Willow Canyon from 15.1 to 18.2 points,” Ms. Isai said. “Their focus was on two years of foreign language for students, which makes them eligible to attend a university, and this was their program to ensure students were university-bound.”

The percentage of students who passed the Cambridge IGCSE Exams increased to 51%, compared to 35% the year before.

Last year, however, 508 students were tested, and 662 two years ago. Ms. Isai said they are more selective with whom they allow to test for the International Baccalaureate exams. Where fewer students tested, the percentage of those who passed increased.

In 2017-18, juniors were all given the chance to test for the ACT due to a state grant. More than 2,200 students were tested, with an average composite score of 18. But last year only 386 paid for the test with the composite score rising to 22.

“Our AP numbers have gone up every year,” Ms. Isai said. “Last year, 995 students received college credit in dual enrollment classes, but that number could be low as some classes are offered together, and students opt to only do dual enrollment and not take the AP test or only take the test and not pay for dual enrollment.

AZ Tech Skills students are given a competency test at the end of the unit, which showed an upward trend with a total of 678 exams given with an 88% of student passing. Ms. Isai said this shows the district is making progress.

“This proves to our stakeholders that we are preparing students for the next steps,” Ms. Isai said.

Editor’s note: Ms. Jimenez is a contributor to Surprise Independent.



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