Education Week’s 2016 Quality Counts Report Highlights Strengths and Weaknesses in Arizona

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research and Evaluation Analyst

Posted on: January 25, 2016

Recently, Education Week released its 20th annual Quality Counts report, Called to Account: New Directions in School Accountability. The annual report features state rankings and grades presented within a selected context based on national priorities, with this year’s accountability theme highlighting achievement and poverty gaps in state NAEP performance. State highlights of the Quality Counts 2016 report include overall rankings and summative grades based on three indices (Chance for Success, School Finance, and K-12 Achievement). 

Overall, the nation received a grade of C. Arizona fell toward the bottom of the list in state rankings at 45th, with a grade of D+. Arizona also fared worse than the average state on the Chance for Success Index and School Finance Index with a ranking of 43 (C) and 48 (D-), respectively. Similar to the average state’s performance, Arizona was ranked 26th on the K-12 Achievement Index with a grade of C-. Arizona’s comparative strengths and weaknesses as defined by a ranking within the top or bottom fifth in the country include the following:

Income and linguistic foundational risk factors. Arizona was ranked 44th in the nation on family income, with nearly half of children living in families with incomes at least 200% of the poverty level. Additionally, Arizona ranked 45th in the nation on linguistic integration with roughly 20% of children having parents not fluent in the English language.

Low preschool enrollment. With a ranking of 48th on preschool enrollment, only 36% of three and four year olds in Arizona enrolled in preschool in 2014. This compares to a national enrollment of 47%.

Low NAEP 4th grade reading proficiency with a large poverty-based performance gap.  In 2015 Arizona ranked 42nd on 4th grade reading NAEP performance, with only 30% of 4th graders scoring at or above proficient on reading. Furthermore, Arizona had the largest poverty gap in 4th grade NAEP reading performance in the nation. More specifically, students eligible for the National School Lunch Program scored on average 33 points lower than their non-eligible peers.

Large achievement gains on NAEP. Despite Arizona’s poor ranking on 4th grade reading, Arizona students’ achievement gains on NAEP from 2003-2015 in 4th grade math, 8th grade math, and 8th grade reading are among the highest in the nation. Arizona fell within the top ten states for greatest scale-score improvement on NAEP in these three grade/subject areas across time.

Low per-pupil spending. While Arizona scored relatively well on the equity portion of the School Finance Index, measures of spending paint a much bleaker picture with Arizona ranked 50th in the nation for adjusted per-pupil expenditures and 47th on spending on education.

Stagnant high school graduation rate. From 2002-2012, Arizona’s public high school graduation rate has only increased by 2.3% compared to 8.4% nationally (ranking of 47).

Low post-secondary participation. Arizona ranked 43rd on postsecondary participation, with 48% of young adults enrolled in a postsecondary institution or holding a degree (compared to 55% nationally).

The 2016 Quality Counts report highlights Arizona’s strengths in addition to the significant amount of work to be done across the education spectrum. As such, Helios Education Foundation’s continuing mission is to ensure students are academically prepared at every stage of the education continuum-from early learning to postsecondary education-and ultimately graduate college and career ready.  

Click here to learn more about Helios’ work across the three impact areas of Early Grade Success, College and Career Readiness, and Postsecondary Completion.  

Click here to obtain more information about the 2016 Quality Counts report.

Category: College and Career Readiness

No comments posted. Be the first!

Stay Connected

Get updates about our community involvement and featured news

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe to our eNewsletter!

Receive email updates on our Community Involvement and Featured News