When you look over a restaurant or motel guide, it's easy to see that those with five stars have the highest ratings.
Now people around the state will be able to see how the schools they select for their children rank in terms of progress and teaching quality. Arizona schools also will be ranked by the five-star method.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan announced Tuesday the development of Arizona's Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), the state's first method of assessing student progress around the state.
MAP was developed using Stanford 9 Achievement Test scores from the spring of 1998 to the spring of 1999 to determine how well students are progressing from one year to the next.
Payson School Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said the study allows students around the state, whether they're from high- or low-achieving schools, to be analyzed on a level playing field.
"It took some real statisticians to do it and they've done a good job with it," Weissenfels said Monday. "I think it's great. I'm glad the state has done this."
Weissenfels attended a meeting Friday in Phoenix with Arizona Department of Education officials, statisticians who worked on the MAP concept and other school superintendents and brought home an above-average rating for the district.
Broken down by schools in grades K-8, in both reading and math, PUSD schools ranked as follows:
• Rim Country Middle School -- five stars, or excellent, in reading; four stars, or above average, in math.
• Julia Randall Elementary -- four stars, or above average, in reading; three stars, or average, in math.
• Frontier Elementary School -- four stars, or above average, in reading and math.
• Payson Elementary School -- four stars, or above average, in reading and math.
"If a child scores in the 60th percentile (four stars, or above average) and then the next year the same child again scores at the 60th percentile, that's what creates the ranking," Weissenfels said.
There are two sets of ranking -- one in math and one in reading, he said.
"This particular test is scored on a national percentile. This you can't compare with AIMS, but the state hopes to do something similar with the AIMS test."
Weissenfels said he thinks MAP is a good attempt at determining whether every child in the state is progressing at a normal rate.
"They never did this before," he said. "The grading of Stanford 9 hasn't changed. What has changed is the statistical analysis of the results of the test."
The analysis is done by the Arizona Department of Education, not Stanford 9 officials.
"Most schools have never really used Stanford 9 results to the benefit of the students," he said.
"With this information, it gives us some very valuable data for measuring students' growth. You bet they're going to use it."
Weissenfels said that the good news for Payson is that all the scores are in the top 40 percent of all the schools in the state.
"We're very pleased with the progress our students are making," he said. "The praise belongs to the teachers. They're the ones who move them along."