Last month, the Arizona Department of Education released its new “School Report Cards” program, a resource with which members of the public can look up school information such as student demographics, teacher experience, graduation rates, incidence of violence and college career readiness. The School Report Card system even grades each of the 2,103 Arizona schools in its database on an A to F scale.
Most of the system information comes from the 2017-2018 school year, however some sections have to use the most recent data available, often 2015 or 2016. The website currently lists kindergarten through high school, but the Arizona Department of Education plans to include also early education and preschool on future versions of the site. “I am thrilled that parents will have all of this information at their fingertips, allowing them to make the most informed decision about schools for their children,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, in a press release. “As a vocal proponent of school choice, as well as someone who does not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to education, this gives parents the ability to see what opportunities are available for their child’s specific needs.”
Comparing local high schools, Catalina Foothills High School received the highest grade of A, while Mountain View High School received a B, andMarana High School received a D. Canyon Del Oro and Ironwood Ridge high schools were unrated. But this lack of a rating did not mean the latter high schools lacked all data.
The School Report Card system also focuses on student graduation rate, by assigning “Graduation Points” to each school. According to the School Report Card website, graduation points are based off the percentage of students who graduated within the first four years of enrolling in high school.
Catalina Foothills and Mountain View both scored a perfect 20 out of 20 graduation points, while Canyon Del Oro scored 15, and Marana and Ironwood Ridge high schools scored 10.
These scores are also reflected in student academic proficiency, with Catalina Foothills scoring the highest in academic proficiency, Marana High scoring the lowest, and Canyon Del Oro, Mountain View and Ironwood Ridge falling in the middle.
Beyond student academics, the School Report Cards website also examines teacher experience and training. No local high schools have more than a quarter of their “Core Academic Teachers, Principals and School Leaders” that are inexperienced or under-experienced. Ironwood Ridge has the highest percentage of experienced teachers.
As for incidence of violence, which the School Report Card system defines as “Physical attack or threat of physical attack or fight with or without a weapon,” Mountain View, Canyon del Oro, Marana High and Ironwood Ridge are all have similar scores: 20 to 30 instances in the 2015 to 2016 school year. Catalina Foothills scored very low in incidences of violence, with only two cases listed in the school year.
The School Report Cards website was made to fulfill the federal requirement of the Every Student Succeeds Act to “include a clear and concise description of the State accountability system.” The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law December 2015 to replace the No Child Left Behind Act.
An upcoming update to the website is the “highlights” section, which will allow schools to distinguish themselves from one another by promoting the exceptional and unique features of their specific school or district.
To view local school statistics from the School Report Cards program, visit azreportcards.azed.gov