Stories for Topic:
One graph tells all about the education gap that plagues Arizona as much as any state.
Lower student achievement is inextricably linked to rampant poverty. One sets off the other in a never-ending cycle that weighs heavily on the state. The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better, with the more difficult Common Core Standards about to come down kaboom on students and teachers.
As the state prepares to announce the latest round of school grades, educators will once again bear the total rap for problems that should be everyone’s responsibility.
Most do the best they can with what they are given, but this shouldn’t be just their job. It’s time for three other major interest groups to step up to help educators narrow the gap in student achievement.
Different approaches to education have revealed themselves anew with the governor’s bid to tie increases in funding to school performance.
The measure will reward the rich and penalize the poor, says an ASU professor who maintains that school performance tracks with poverty levels.
Not so, the governor fires back.
But Thinking Arizona found that the performance of 1,462 schools – every school for which all the necessary data was available – unmistakably correlates with socio-economic circumstances.
Rather than denying these differences exist, we can best improve our shaky education performance by calling attention to them. That should begin by revising the school grading system. Then we would do well to study the experience of one particular elementary school in Phoenix.
The Arizona Report paints our state by the numbers. It’s not the pretty picture one hopes to see.
The scoreboard compares us with others on three critical measures of a state’s well-being that Thinking Arizona has examined in recent editions. Arizona comes up short on the economy, in education, and even on the environment.
The overall pattern is distressing. Arizona, now the 15th largest state, is no backwater. Yet we treat ourselves as one. Our performance raises serious questions, beginning with why this happens.
Explore this edition. Try out the Arizona Report. Plug in whatever other states to compare. See how Arizona does.
Arizona education is struggling to right itself.
Our 4th and 8th graders are performing at the 42nd best level in the country. And that’s just one indicator of the malaise.
It’s hard to escape circumstance. An “Education Divide” stretches across the country. States south of the divide, Arizona included, are the have not’s of student achievement.
There is no simple cure. The reforms favored by the Legislature only go so far. One top superintendent fires back: “You cannot legislate your way, cannot rule-make yourself to greatness. Maybe to a minimum standard, but not to anything that rises above that.”
We are not impotent though in the face of this challenge. This edition of Thinking Arizona suggests measures to help. The question is whether we have the will to truly transform the results.