Every Student Deserves a High Quality Education

Author: Helios Education Foundation

May 29, 2018

Arizona’s State Board of Education has been working for several years to revise our school accountability system.  Accountability is critical to ensure that schools are meeting the needs of Arizona students and helping to prepare them for success in college and career.   

Last year saw a major overhaul of the accountability system, with a commitment to continuous review and improvement in future years.  To that end, the State Board of Education recently adopted five changes to the 2017-1018 A-F accountability system as part of that continuous improvement process. 

“These changes will help strengthen Arizona’s accountability system,” said Janice Palmer, Helios’ Vice President and Director of Policy and member of the State Board of Education’s A-F Accountability Ad Hoc Committee.  “We are particularly pleased that the Board is moving the current Student Number Count from 20 to 10.”  

The issue of Student Number Count is of key importance for three main reasons.  1. Ensuring that as many students as possible are included in the school accountability system.  2. Validity, reliability, and student privacy.  3. Knowledge that the number count is especially important for the English Language Learner (ELL) category, as the majority of schoolswould not meet the number count threshold to be held accountable for that area if it remained at 20.

“In the data presented to stakeholders and the Board, it is clear that lowering the student number count to 10 will address the issues of including the most amount of students, especially ELL students, without sacrificing validity, reliability, or student privacy and will lead to greater parity among schools,” continued Palmer.

That data demonstrated that an additional 291 schools (254 under the grades K-8 model and 41 under the grades 9-12 model) will be rated in the ELL category. In addition, the number of schools held accountable under the full 100 points of both models increased from 48% to 65% in grades K-8 and 25% to 38% in grades 9-12. 

Helios has been consistent in highlighting the importance of counting as many students as possible and ensuring there is parity among schools in being assessed in the four areas (proficiency, growth, ELL, and K-8 acceleration) in the grades K-8 model and the five areas (proficiency, growth, ELL, graduation rate, and College and Career Readiness) in the grades 9-12 model.

We appreciate the State Board of Education’s leadership in working to refine the accountability system and to include key stakeholders in the decision making process.  This is a positive step toward a stronger education system that meets the needs of all students, helping to ensure they are ready for success in college and career.   

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