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New funding proposal would reward schools for students’ success


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  • Lisa Irish/Arizona Education News Service

Dale Frost

A revamped proposal to financially reward Arizona public schools for academic growth individual students make over the school year will be presented to Arizona state legislators this year by Gov. Jan Brewer’s office.

A K-12 performance funding plan based on schools’ letter grades introduced by the governor last year met resistance.

“The governor really wanted a small portion of funding (for public schools) to be outcomes based,” said Dale Frost, Brewer’s education policy advisor. “We floated a proposal last year, got a lot of good feedback and you’ll see the update addresses many concerns.”

New funding proposal would reward schools for students’ success DALE-FROST-InsideStory

Dale Frost, education policy advisor to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, talks about the Student Success Funding proposal at a legislative conference Nov. 8, 2013 in Tempe.

About $2.4 million for K-12 performance funding was included in last year’s education budget and now sits in an account “as as a kind of a down payment to keep it on the legislative radar that we want to continue talking about this, and they’ve been asking about it,” Frost said during a Nov. 8 legislative workshop in Tempe.

Gov. Brewer’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 was released  Jan. 17, 2014, and included $37.6 million of new dollars for the Student Success Funding program, plus the $2.4 million carryover for a total of $40 million.

Arizona State Legislature Rep. Heather Carter (R-15), a member of the House education committee, mentioned the governor’s proposal later at that same workshop hosted by Arizona School Boards Association, Arizona Association of School Business Officials and Arizona School Administrators.

“I believe that is something that we really need to look at,” Carter said. “I support the Governor in that conversation, and I’m excited to go into the details of that plan.”

New funding proposal would reward schools for students’ success StudentSuccessFundingGraphicUpdate022814The new Student Success Funding proposal avoids roadblocks to future accountability reform, Frost said during a Nov. 8 legislative workshop in Tempe hosted by Arizona School Boards Association, Arizona Association of School Business Officials and Arizona School Administrators.

“We’ll never have something you can have 100 percent agreement on, but I think it’s going to be a lot better for schools and still reward the success we want to see,” Frost said.

The plan would award money to school districts and charter schools based on the amount of progress students make toward achievement goals as measured by Arizona’s statewide student assessment, and individual student growth would be heavily weighted, Frost said.

“If you have a student whose scores falls far below (the standard), the student is compared to the same students who scored that way the next year,” Frost said. “If that student outperformed 98 percent of those students, (that student) would have a student growth percentile of 98,” Frost said.

Such superior growth could earn $200 for a district or charter with the plan, Frost said.

“A student who scores approaches (the standard) in years one and two, makes very significant progress, but still doesn’t meet proficiency in year two, could earn up to $100 for your district,” Frost said.

For students in grades K-2, 9, and 11, who currently do not take the AIMS statewide test performance-based funding would be based on the average per-student amount in tested grades for that district or school, Frost said.

Districts and charters also would receive $40 for each high school graduate.

New funding proposal would reward schools for students’ success StudentSuccessFundingMoneyInside1

The new proposal would provide $38.29 million in funding the first year.

The new Student Success Funding proposal would provide $38.29 million in funding the first year, Frost said. He cautioned that the funding should be considered “a reward, a bonus, an incentive” and not part of base-level per student funding. When funds would be distributed is still under consideration, since schools don’t receive assessment data back until after budgets are set.

“We don’t want to put any restrictions on the use of these dollars, but these will be inherently less stable than dollars based on ADM (average daily membership) Frost said. “We strongly recommend that they don’t put recurring costs there that it be more nonrecurring costs which would be a much smarter way to go.”

While Frost said providing equal opportunities to earn funding was one of the goals of the new plan, an analysis by the governor’s office showed districts would benefit from the plan slightly more than charters, larger districts slightly more than smaller ones, and high school districts slightly more than elementary/unified districts. Click here to find out what your district or charter would have earned this year with the Student Success Funding proposal.

The impact of the transition from AIMS, which measures mastery of Arizona’s old standards, to a new, yet-to-be-determined assessment aligned with Arizona’s new standards has been taken into consideration, said Frost.

The plan proposes to use Spring 2014 AIMS results as the basis for 2015 Student Success Funding, and, since there won’t be two years of data on the new assessment available for growth comparisons, the state would carry over fiscal 2015 allocations for fiscal 2016, Frost said.

The new assessment results will be the basis for fiscal 2017 Student Success Funding, Frost said.

“We think that’s the fairest way to take pressure off of schools and still move forward in a meaningful way,” Frost said.

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