10 Arizona education issues to watch in the year ahead
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AZ education issues to watch this school year

AZEdNews10BigAzEducationIssuesHP3 By Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

With the school year starting, here are 10 Arizona education issues to watch now and during the upcoming legislative session.

Look for more in-depth coverage of these issues in upcoming editions of AZEdNews.

AZ education issues to watch this school year azednews10bigazeducationissuestowatchinfographic

Infographic by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews
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Funding K-12 schools

The Classrooms First Council, which was established by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, continues to consider changes in how public K-12 district and charter schools are funded by the State of Arizona and for what. (Link to

The council, which has been tasked with making recommendation to the governor, , will hold its next meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 2p.m. in the training room at Kitchell Corporation, 1707 E Highland Avenue in Phoenix. Kitchell CEO Jim Swanson is chair of the council. Click here for the council’s agenda for the meeting.

While the council is focused on allocation rather than adequacy, education advocates have put forth their ideas for the next step after the May 2016 passage of Prop. 123 in increasing funding for public schools and are ready to work with legislators and the governor on this critical issue.

In addition to the push to boosting general operations and capital funding , there is a push by education advocates and the business community to find more money for career and technical education and joint technical education districts. These groups’ hopes were buoyed by last year’s success in restoring the majority of previous year’s cuts in funding.

Every Student Succeeds Act

As Arizona develops its education plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the state will consider what role students’ test scores will play in teacher evaluations and in the state’s A-F school accountability system.

The State Board of Education and school districts will also consider the benefits and feasibility of using assessments other than AzMERIT, which ESSA and Arizona state law now allow.

Teacher shortage

Prop. 123 provided many Arizona districts with an opportunity to increase teachers’ salaries. Yet, increased pressure remains to further increase salaries, which remain 25 percent below the national average and to find more ways to help Arizona schools which are having considerable trouble recruiting and retaining teachers.

Tax revenue changes

As the search continues for additional state revenue for education, proposed tax cuts and state income and local property tax policy will all be re-evaluated.

Closing the achievement gap

Public education, business, non-profit, civic and government leaders are also seeking more discussion, consensus and an action plan on how to ensure all Arizona students succeed.

Finding ways to close the opportunity and achievement gaps for Arizona’s minority, low-income, special education, foster and LGBT students will figure prominently.