Every generation tells a story that may begin something like this, “back when I was a kid….” Maybe you’ve heard, “we walked to school in 3 feet of snow, uphill, both ways.” 

For some families, life was tougher in the past. Personally, growing up in rural Alaska, the weather and winter days were physically demanding but, surviving the 115-degree summer in Arizona is the same feat, just the opposite extreme!

One memorable event I recall as a kid involved my take-home report card and the potential economic windfall it created for me. Each respectable grade translated to coins, and by high school, the rewards soared to $1! Some quarters/semesters, I was excited to bring home my report card, and others, not so much. I did realize early on that hard work usually pays off in the end. 

The Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) recently received its annual state report card, and it was great once again. Excelling academically at DVUSD is the new normal; our community expects #extraordinary performance, every year. Once again, 92% of our 40 schools proudly secured an A or B rating with 25 of those schools with the highest A-rating.  

In a district of 33,000 students and 4,000 employees, such a feat is not easy. It takes the whole team and our community to reach and maintain such heights.

The good news is that DVUSD did really well on the state report card. The bad news is that the snap-shot approach of a single-day state test never tells the whole story of DVUSD’s real successes. 

What are the processes, systems, and teams that built this machine to be successful every year? One has to have a standard of excellence in all areas, not just academics to guide students to be life-long learners. What of daily attendance, enrollment, safety, graduation, and discipline rates? How about parental involvement, extra and co-curricular opportunities for students to feel connected to school, and a sense of belonging for students and staff?  

Our annual staff, community, and student surveys show these other variables are just as important to our community and also reflect DVUSD’s successes in these areas.  

Proudly, DVUSD continues to accumulate major awards in a variety of areas year-round. This year, Forbes named DVUSD the Best Public School Mid-Size Employer in the Nation! We continue to win multiple athletic, fine arts, and Career and Technical Education Arizona State Titles every year — 50 state titles last year alone! 

If there is an Arizona award, DVUSD will be in the running, every time. For example, our newly created K-12 Aspire Online Academy out-performed every hybrid learning environment in the state this year — No. 1! 

Aspire received a B in its inaugural year with a growth score of 71.68, surpassing a dozen others, including two high-profile programs, ASU Prep (B: 65.01) and Primavera (D: 43.27). 

DVUSD’s community, state and national report cards are full of rewards! DVUSD: It’s just better here.

Dr. Curtis Finch is the superintendent of DVUSD and can be reached at