NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 28, 2010

Arizona lawmakers recently enacted some of the most far-reaching K-12 education reforms in the state's history.  Several of the bills that Gov. Jan Brewer has signed into law are modeled on Florida's successful reforms implemented a decade ago, says Goldwater vice president of research Matthew Ladner. 

For example: 

  • Arizona now will annually issue schools a letter grade of A, B, C, D or F.
  • The state now will have a robust program for experts in math, science and other areas to teach their subjects without first getting a teaching certificate from a college of education.
  • Lawmakers have curtailed social promotion by holding back some third graders who have yet to learn the basics of reading.
  • Legislators expanded the sources available to launch new charter schools.
  • Lawmakers increased the size and transparency of the state scholarship tax credit program and changed the date for claiming the tax credits from December 31 to April 15.  

The Legislature also specified that school districts cannot use "years on the job" as the only criteria when deciding which teachers to keep.  The Arizona Department of Education will be required to develop teacher and principal evaluations that include how well students score on specific tests. 

This year, Arizona lawmakers demonstrated with action, not just words, that they will not accept Arizona permanently sitting near the bottom of student achievement rankings.   Each bill contains important policy changes that will improve education by holding educators accountable to parents and taxpayers.  The "A" to "F" school labels and teacher evaluation reforms could revolutionize Arizona's public schools if properly implemented, says Ladner. 

Source:  Matthew Ladner, "Arizona Legislature adopts sweeping education reforms," Goldwater Institute, May 11, 2010. 


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