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Catalina Foothills, Chandler top rankings of Arizona school districts

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PHOENIX — The best district in Arizona for the new school year is located in Tucson, according to a community research website.

The Catalina Foothills Unified School District is No. 1 in the state for 2018-19, according to, which compiles rankings of K-12 schools, colleges, cities and neighborhoods across the country.

Chandler Unified was the best district in the Phoenix area, checking in at No. 2. Vail Unified in southern Arizona was ranked third.

“It really takes into account some of the great achievements were making at Chandler Unified and it really comes down to our school board [that] wants Chandler Unified to become the No. 1 district in the country by the year 2025,” Chandler Unified’s director of community relations Terry Locke said.

“All of our schools focus on four core areas. Producing outstanding students, having world class employees, organizational culture and having effective resource management really drives everything we’re doing at Chandler Unified.”

The website based its rankings on factors such as state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality and public school district ratings.

Catalina Foothills has only eight schools, including one high school, with just under 5,000 students, according to the site. Chandler, meanwhile, has 43 schools and more than 40,000 students.

The top three districts were the only ones in the state to earn grades of A.

Three small districts, each with two schools, earned A-minus grades: No. 4 Heritage Academy of Mesa, No. 5 Young Elementary in Gila County and No. 6 Choice Academies in Phoenix.

Three of the Valley’s biggest districts earned B-plus grades that put them in the top 10: No. 8 Gilbert Unified, No. 9 Scottsdale Unified and No. 10 Peoria Unified.

Paradise Valley Unified and Deer Valley Unified also were graded with B-pluses and checked in at Nos. 11 and 12, respectively.

Mesa Unified, the state’s largest district with more than 60,000 students, was ranked 22nd.

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