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Douglas Unified
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PREVIEW: 2022 Cochise County Spelling Bee

After a fierce competition lasting 28 rounds, Colonel Smith Middle School seventh grader Khalista Talingdan secured the title as this year's winner of the Cochise County Spelling Bee.

The first runner-up was Veritas Christian Community School seventh grader Isabel Gavin, who was last year's second runner-up behind Talingdan and 2021 champion  Cadence Flores — who didn't compete this year due to graduating from Col. Smith Middle School last year. The third runner-up was Paul Huber Middle School eighth grader Martha Castro.

Stay tuned for our full coverage at

Pandemic major blame for drop in test scores across county

With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, test scores from the statewide Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching — known as AZM2 — assessments dropped in the 2020-21 school year.

Statewide, scores on the statewide assessment dropped the most in mathematics with 11% decrease. English Language Arts or ELA, saw only a 4% decrease.

Here's some additional information from my conversation with Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

"Math is a skill that — it really builds from skill to skill — it can be more challenging for students to learn on their own or without having structured instruction," said Hoffman in regards to the larger drop in math scores statewide. "If [students] miss a section of their math instruction, it’s really hard to go back and to learn that skill without having that sort of intervention in place. Whereas with reading, I think there is more success in families being able to support reading skills and be able to build on those skills at home without there being as much structure needed.”

She recommends that teachers and parents/legal guardians continue to keep communication lines open.

"I think another area that the families can be very helpful in is monitoring their child’s social emotional well being and keeping an eye on how they’re doing socially with other kids," said Hoffman. "That can be a point of collaboration between the school and how a child is developing with a social-emotional standpoint as well.”

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