As the new school year begins, here are five K-12 public education issues to watch for developments in during the next several months.
Some are new, and some are things Arizona leaders have been working on for a while.
But they will all have a big impact on education for years to come.
Infographic by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews
Updating school funding
Gov. Doug Ducey formed a team of business and education leaders to simplify and modernize the current school finance code to ensure more funding goes to teachers and classroom instruction. The initiative is called Classrooms First. The team’s preliminary recommendations are due in September 2015 and final recommendations are due to the governor in December 2015.
Teacher recruitment & retention
With 62 percent of public schools reporting unfilled teaching positions and 23 percent of Arizona educators eligible to retire in the next four years, the Arizona Department of Education’s Educator Retention and Recruitment Task Force is seeking ways to attract and keep teachers in Arizona. Its first report in January 2015 has several suggestions including raising salaries, removing obstacles to Arizona teacher certification and developing and funding multi-year mentoring programs for new teachers and continued training for veteran teachers. The task force’s next report is due out this fall.
Impact of AzMERIT results
Students took AzMERIT, the replacement for AIMS, for the first time last March to test their mastery of the standards adopted in 2010. While unofficial results released last week indicated that most students were not proficient in math and English/language arts, parents will receive their children’s scores on the new test in October. The Arizona State Board of Education will meet Aug. 14 to discuss and possibly adopt levels for each of the four proficiency levels. Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill to allow for a two-year transition period to apply the AzMERIT test results to school and district letter grades, students’ grades, and teacher evaluations for this school year knowing the scores will be lower than AIMS results. The scores will count next school year.
Rising parent involvement in public education advocacy
Last year, parents involvement in their local schools increased, more community members voiced their concerns during school board meetings and many people concerned about the state of education banded together in rallies and individual meetings with legislators to make sure their concerns were heard during the budget process. Many parents also signed up for the first time for the Legislature’s Request to Speak system to comment on bills. That momentum is expected to continue this year.
Arizona academic standards
In April 2015, the Arizona State Board of Education established the Arizona Standards Development Committee to oversee the review of standards that were adopted in 2010 in response to the Common Core standards movement and make any changes necessary to ensure they appropriately reflect Arizona’s needs. The committee will provide its recommendations to the State Board so it can adopt any revisions before the close of the 2015-2016 school year.