Catalina Foothills School District Tumbles in 2024 Niche Rankings.
The brand new 2024 Niche ratings are in and the Catalina Foothills School District dropped 2 positions to the #3 non-selective public school district in Arizona falling behind #1 Chandler and #2 Vail. While CFSD still received an A grade overall, there are several areas Niche noted which contributed to this drop.
First, CFSD Administration received a B – which was the lowest grade on the report card. This is based on many factors including parent/student surveys on administration & policies, the overall Niche-awarded grade, education-to-administration expense ratio, expenses per student, and student and teacher absenteeism.
The CFSD Administration score is closely related to the B grade that teachers received. That’s because the teacher score is based on the Niche-awarded academics grade, parent/student surveys, teacher absenteeism, teacher salary index, teacher experience level, average teacher salary, and student-teacher ratio. Niche noted that 30% of all CFSD teachers have less than 2 years of experience. For Vail, teachers with less than 2 years of experience make up just 17%.
Interestingly, Niche is the only nationally based rating site that grades school districts as a whole. Since no student attends the district office, individual school rankings tend to be more relevant for parents deciding where to send their kids. This year, every CFSD school declined in the rankings except for Ventana Vista Elementary which was already the lowest rated elementary school in the district. Here’s how Niche ranked each school in 2024 compared to last year’s rank when CFSD was the #1 district office topped the list:
Other notable rankings include #48 of 157 for Best Places to Teach in Arizona, and #72 of 172 for Districts with the Best Teachers in Arizona. The board has voted to raise salaries in the last few years, yet that doesn’t appear to reflect CFSD’s difficulty in recruiting and retaining high rated teachers according to Niche. Several other non-select public school districts in Pima County were rated considerably higher than CFSD on this score.
Little attention has been paid to this year’s ranking in local community. This is an odd change since Niche ranking has been a badge of honor for CFSD administration over the last few years. It has been posted on the high school marquis, district’s website, external and internal communications, and social media pages.
The news of the 2024 rankings for CFSD is newsworthy since their release on September 25th. Yet, we are unaware of any communication from the school commenting on CFSD’s drop in the Niche rankings. Given their prior statements about Niche, we know they value their evaluation. Last year, CFSD administration posted their opinion of Niche.com on the district’s Facebook page:
This year CFSD leadership has reacted differently. It’s now been four weeks since Niche released their new rankings and the CFSD board hasn’t addressed this news. This begs the question: Why is it that CFSD leadership stays silent about the new rankings?
If there are identifiable areas of concern, then it would be wise to address them. This is what other organizations do. Each Sunday, NFL coaches conduct post-game interviews – both the winning and losing teams. The losing coach probably dreads that interview but realizes that the only way to improve is to admit a weakness and address it head-on. It’s also what we do in our individual lives. If we identify a weakness, we admit it and work to improve upon it. That’s what we do for ourselves so it’s what we expect for our government schools who are supposed to represent us.
There could also be areas of concern that the district does not want to admit publicly. Our website at SaveCFSD.org lists a few of those things. Some examples are politicizing classrooms, allowing males in girl-only showers and changing areas, interfering with the parent-child relationship, and falsely claiming violent threats to avoid hearing from concerned citizens. So, if it’s the case that the district leadership chooses to ignore areas of concern, then improvement is unlikely. We encourage the current and future board members to address all the possible ways CFSD can improve even the uncomfortable ones.