The news hasn't all been good for Carbon School District the last few years. The closure of a high school, a controversial contract non-renewal for a superintendent and then the hiring of a new superintendent only to have controversy swirl around his past have dogged the school board and the adminstration.
But on Tuesday night the board, administrators and others were all smiles as Judy Mainord, secondary education supervisor, made a PowerPoint presentation on the result of years of work during a regularly scheduled Carbon School District Board of Education meeting.
"Note that all the boxes on these AYP (annual yearly progress) charts have yeses in them," said Mainord, referring to results from testing last spring in elementary through high school grades. "The teachers in our schools did a fabulous job last year. We nearly totally passed AYP and our test scores improved."
The only place where AYP was not attained was in English Language Arts at Helper Junior High.
"We had a subgroup that brought down the scores there," said Mainord in an email on Wednesday morning.
The district's high school was also the point of celebration because last week KSL.com ranked Carbon High as the 28th best high school in the state (academically and in service to students) out of the 123 high schools in the state selected.
"We were third in the state for a school of our size," said Robert Cox, district special education supervisor before the meeting. "The only schools better than us in our size category were Park City and Morgan."
And overall, Park City was rated as the top high school in the state, beating out all the large Wasatch Front schools. Emery High School was ranked 72nd overall.
According to KSL.com the information for the rankings came from the Utah State Office of Education. The rankings used the U-PASS system and information about advanced placement tests provided by the USOE. The high school itself is abuzz with excitement about the ranking too.
"We are really excited about this," Principal Greg Stanfield said Wednesday morning in a telephone interview. "It's a major accomplishment for us."
Two weeks ago, Stanfield and a group of teachers were having lunch together when one of the teachers mentioned the KSL high school rankings. That's when the word began to spread among the faculty.
"The faculty thought it was a great thing to see and it is a big deal for us," Stanfield stated.
The accomplishment is also noteworthy being in the top 20 percent, especially with the size of Carbon High compared to larger schools in the state that may have more to offer, Stanfield said. He said everyone from the students to the faculty and the community all deserve credit for helping Carbon High reach the accomplishment. But with his competitive nature and his drive to see students succeed, Stanfield is hoping next year will bring more good news.
"We want to see students promote the ranking and push each other to work harder," he explained. "Our hope for next year is to be in the top 15 percent in the state."
During the meeting Mainord pointed to all the good news that came out of last year as she proceeded with her presentation. Not only had the districts schools done well with AYP, but also in direct writing assessments for grades five and eight, in a pre/post test on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (third grade) and on the Utah Test of Basic Skills (10th grade/ACT).
Most importantly for AYP, many of the subgroups in schools exceeded expectations and scores zoomed up. Sub groups include students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and various race groups. For instance in grades three through eight students with disabilities raised their scores in mathematics from a 2009 score of 45 percent to 54 percent this past year. In language arts grades three through eight hispanic students raised their scores from 66 percent to 72 percent. In secondary schools (grades 10-12) students with disabilities raised their scores from 55 percent to 68 percent in language arts. And in math at that same level economically disadvantages students raised their math scores from 31 percent to 44 percent. Most of the AYP showed similar gains among many groups.
In the direct writing assessments for fifth and eighth grades. 94 percent of the fifth grades students were proficient while in the eight grade 91 percent were proficient.
In the Iowa Test given to third graders all the elementnary showed good gains, with Creekview taking students the farthest from a reading level of grade 2.9 in the fall to a 4.4 grade in the spring. All the schools improved reading skills at least one grade level over the year.
On the Utah Basic Skills Test sophomores at Carbon High had high grades too. The class had a 71.1 percent proficiency in math, 91.8 percent in reading and 73.3 percent in writing skills.
The district also noted that almost three dozen teachers in the system had classes with over 90 percent achievement rates for their students in various disaplines including math, reading and science.
"The day we had opening institute for the teachers, we used that meeting to celebrate the great news of what they had done," said acting superintendent Patsy Bueno before the meeting started. "It was a great year, with a lot of people working very hard to achieve what was done."
Sun Advocate reporter Kevin Scannell contributed to this article.