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Low-income Phoenix school shares its formula for success as Arizona legislature turns to education

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 13:49:02-05

One Valley school is sharing its formula for success with ABC15, as Arizona's governor and legislature focus on helping low-income schools bridge the achievement gap.

Governor Doug Ducey outlined 15 education policy proposals during his State of the State address Monday. 

Sunset Elementary, a Title I school at 67th Avenue and Osborn Road in Phoenix, has earned an A rating from the state since 2011. 

See the Arizona Department of Educations list of all A-rated schools

"All kids can achieve at high levels," Principal Kristi Langley-Wells said. "I think that's the first thing you have to find - people who strongly believe that."

Langley-Wells said success also involves a lot of hard work and extra hours from teachers and staff. For example, they took action after they looked at data and learned the students performed better on state math tests than reading.

"We worked with the state Department of Education, and they have a staff development called Teaching Reading Effectively," Langley-Wells said. The teachers attended five days of training during their summer break.

The principal says parents are key to the equation, so they hold classes for the adults from nutrition to how to help with math homework. The do-whatever-it-takes mentality includes having parent liaisons, flexible parent meeting times and locations, and even personal calls from teachers to homes if a child is absent.

"As parents we all want our kids to be successful," Langley-Wells said. "Sometimes we just need a little extra help in different areas, and that's our job to provide that."

Sunset Elementary is one of two A-rated schools in the Cartwright School District. The other is Heatherbrae Elementary.