Cardinal pride

Since Glendale High School Principal Kevin Cashatt has been at the helm, AIMS test scores at the school have gone from a “C” grade to an “A.”

Entering his second year as principal of Glendale High School, Kevin Cashatt has one thing to tell any detractors about the school.

“When I got here, I had never seen a staff that cares as much about kids as the staff here,” Cashatt said recently while sitting in his office. “The staff here believes in these students and what they can accomplish, and it is showing in the things they are doing.”

One of the accomplishments he is talking about is raising the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test scores. One year after scoring a “C” grade on the test, Glendale has turned those scores around and scored an “A” on this year’s test. Passing the test is required to graduate from high school.

“The staff here implemented a plan of action to help the kids and focus on instruction within the classroom, which is the most important thing,” Cashatt said. “We also had before- and after-school sessions, as well as a number of Saturday practice sessions that kids came to.”

The test measures student proficiency of the Arizona Academic Content Standards in writing, reading, mathematics and science and is required by state and federal law.

Glendale Union High School District had eight of its nine schools gain an “A” score with the other school (Independence) scoring a “B.” The district ranked second in Maricopa County in scores behind only Cave Creek Unified School District.

“It wasn’t me that created these changes, it was the staff,” Cashatt said. “We as a staff met and said here are our problems and how are we going to solve them? We brainstormed ideas, then put in a plan of action that the teachers implemented.”

When Cashatt took over as principal in 2012, he inherited a school that had dropped in its AIMS score to a “C” with a student population made up mostly of low-income minorities. After meeting with the staff, he knew the scores did not reflect the teachers and staff.

“The reason I took the job was because this is one of the best schools in Arizona and I knew it was already an 'A' school, even if the scores didn’t show that. I came in and sat down with the staff, and we all realized that we needed to improve student achievement, and we worked as a team on how we were going to do that.”

He said the staff took initiative in setting up before- and after-school study sessions for the students and they set up numerous Saturday sessions for students to voluntarily come for help.

“I was very surprised with the outcome we had from these programs that the teachers implemented,” Cashatt said. “We had over 200 kids show up on Saturdays so they could be successful on this test. That speaks volumes to the effort of the teachers, the parents and the kids who believed how important this test was.”

Cashatt, who was born in California, moved to Flagstaff when he was 1 year old with his family and identical twin brother. He graduated from Sunnyslope High School, then graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s degree in history and social studies. He got his first job teaching history at Chino Valley High School in Prescott.

He moved back to Flagstaff after three years to attend NAU again to get a master’s degree in educational technology, and then a second master’s in educational leadership.

“While I was at Chino Valley, I enjoyed working as student council advisor and coaching, so I decided I wanted to make a change at a higher level,” Cashatt said. “I always thought it was cool to connect with kids and as an administrator, you can do it on a different level, and I wanted to try and have an impact on that.”

He got his first principal job in February 2008, after applying for jobs expecting maybe an assistant principal position for the following school year.

“I applied to Valley High School (in Sanders) just off the Navajo reservation and got the job to start right away,” Cashatt said.

He was at Sanders for almost three years before getting a job at Sunnyslope in 2011, then moved to Glendale High School.

“I wanted to be here, and when they offered me the position, I didn’t hesitate,” Cashatt said. “I knew this was a great school and I am honored to be here.”

Cashatt said his goals remain the same after the school improved their test scores, and that will not change.

“Continuous improvement and making a difference in kid’s lives - that is always our goal here,” he said. “We want to continue to improve our pass rates, passing classes and earning credits towards graduation. We also want to maintain our ‘A’ grade, and I believe we have the staff that is dedicated to doing that.”

Cashatt said that while he is proud of what has been accomplished in his short time at GHS, he sees nothing but a strong future for the school.

He said, “We have some of the best students in the state of Arizona here and they want the teachers to be successful. What they have accomplished on a daily basis, both kids and staff that is the most impressive thing to me.”