NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Arizona's Innovative Approach To Education

November 9, 2000

Arizona has become a leading state in the movement for school reform and accountability, say observers.

  • The difficult statewide Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards is given to students to measure their performance -- only 11 percent of high school sophomores who took the test last year passed the math portion.
  • Voters just passed a ballot initiative, Proposition 301, that puts the state right in the middle of the contentious national debate over merit pay for teachers -- it increases funding for schools but sets aside 30 percent of the money to fund a pay-for-performance plan.
  • And by a wide margin, they passed Proposition 203, a ballot initiative that replaces bilingual education with more effective English immersion programs.
  • And Arizona has more charter schools than any other state -- 402 independent charter schools approved by the state, and 69 sponsored by the state Education Department.

In all, over 52,000 students in Arizona attend charter schools, which are state-funded but independently operated with varying degrees of supervision and regulation.

For instance, in Arizona, the charter schools' curriculum must be aligned with state standards.

Source: Editorial, "Comparing Schools: Arizona schools are experimenting with new approaches," Dallas Morning News, November 8, 2000.


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