Feel free to review this letter in its entirety.
Dear Altar Valley Families,
As you are probably aware, Altar Valley has enjoyed five consecutive years of increasing student achievement scores and our school and district letter grades (determined by the Arizona Department of Education) rank us near the very top of all schools in the southwestern quadrant of metropolitan Tucson. We are a school district on the move and many positive things are happening on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, we know we can still do much better. To that point, at the April governing board meeting, a new program was approved that will support our students toward that end. Raising Expectations is the result of four months of discussion and collaborative work involving teachers, administrators, and the governing board. Raising Expectations provides a framework for what our community expects of all our students. Specifically, it identifies clear and measurable expectations for AVSD students to achieve throughout the academic year. There is a reward tied to each benchmark for meeting or exceeding the goal as well as a consequence if we fail to reach the goal.
If we do not hold high expectations for our students they will not rise to meet them. If a child doesn’t know where the goal line is, how can we really expect that child to cross it? Altar Valley School District not only wants to ensure that our students know where the goal line is, but also provide each child with the tools to successfully race toward the goal with confidence. Like life itself, achievement and accountability are the cornerstones of the program. As adults, if we fail to meet our expectations, there are consequences. If we meet or exceed expectations there are rewards. Raising Expectations recognizes that same reality exists for our children. Students who “exceed” the standard on the reading and/or math sections of AIMS or district benchmark assessments will receive recognition at school assemblies and in Connections. Students who fall short of the expectations will be required to participate in interventions including as much as 16 hours of remediation for each academic area required. Examples of remediation would include tutoring, summer school, or even required classroom attendance on Saturdays.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Raising Expectations is the attendance component. We all know that regular attendance is critical for learning and achievement. Students who miss 10 or more days in a semester will be required to complete 16 hour of remediation regardless of academic achievement scores.
Raising Expectations is really about promoting grit. Grit is one of middle school teacher Claudia Heath’s favorite words. It is a great word and quite frankly, a word we do not use often enough. As you know, grit means to finish what one starts regardless of obstacles. It is about being relentless in your pursuit, possessing a stick-to-it persistence, and being that dog on a bone. It is a wonderful characteristic that employers value greatly and it will serve each of our children.
As always, thank you for your continued support of Altar Valley School District.
Dr. Nathan McCann