2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 95%
Arizona’s “switcher” tax-credit scholarship program was enacted and launched in 2012. The law allows donors to receive tax credits for their donations to school tuition organizations, nonprofits that give scholarships to students in need.
Education Savings Account
Arizona was the first state to enact an education savings account program, the newest school choice mechanism. The passage and launch of the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program in 2011 opened the door to new learning opportunities for students with special needs and circumstances, and the expansion in 2017 will eventually make the program open to nearly all of Arizona’s K–12 students.
The Arizona legislature enacted “Lexie’s Law” in 2009. The program, a tax-credit scholarship for students with special needs, launched in the same year.
Arizona’s Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program passed in 2006, and it launched in the same year. This tax-credit scholarship program allows corporate taxpayers to receive tax credits for their donations to nonprofit organizations that provide school scholarships to K–12 students from low-income families.
The Arizona legislature passed this program in 1997, and it launched in the same year. This tax-credit scholarship program allows taxpayers to receive tax credits for their donations to nonprofit organizations that provide school scholarships to K–12 students.
Charter Schools Score: 92%
Arizona has one of the strongest charter school laws in the country. It enables a wide, varied, and independent charter school sector. Arizona’s charter schools have a lot of autonomy; The state scores higher than any other in the “autonomy” category.
The law also scores well because it allows for multiple authorizers, although there isn’t a wide variety of authorizers currently operating in the state. An independent charter commission, the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools (established by law) and school districts authorize charter schools. The state has recently encouraged universities to partner to create charter schools, as is the case at Arizona State University.
There is growing evidence of the connection between the great amount of choice Arizona parents can exercise in choosing the right schools for children and academic success. This connection is a result of the state’s sound law. A 2017 study found that Arizona charter school students “in all racial and ethnic groups outperformed the state average for their group in Math and English.” For Hispanic/Latino students, the results were even more impressive: This group outpaced the statewide growth of its peers, “achieving 6 percentage points of growth in English and Math from 2015-2017.”
- Fast Facts
- Law Passed in 1994
- 547 Charter Schools
- Arizona’s law has no cap on the growth of charter schools
- Estimated Charter School Enrollment: 180,000 (up 1.5 percent from 2015-16)
- Virtual Charter Schools are allowed
- Charter holders can contract with all education service providers
- Arizona earns 13 of 15 for “authorizing.” Arizona’s law allows for multiple entities to authorize charter schools: universities, school districts, and the State Board for Charter Schools. In practice, however, the State Board authorizes the vast majority of schools. The Board is a strong authorizer and has, historically,, granted schools autonomy and allowed the sector to grow. But having one authorizer limits the amount of charter schools that exist because there are fewer entities authorizing charter schools.
- Arizona earns 13 out of 15 for growth. While Arizona does not cap the number of charter schools that can be authorized, Arizona’s charter sector has shown very little growth in recent years. The large number of schools that currently operate suggests that the market for charter schools in Arizona could be saturated; there is enough supply to meet demand.
- Arizona earns 18 of 20 on the “autonomy” score because its charter schools have a blanket waiver from all non-health and safety regulations that apply to traditional public schools. However, the State of Arizona and the Board have recently been requiring charter schools in Arizona to comply with reporting requirements that constrain the ways schools can behave. Any constraints on the way that charter schools are able to operate makes it even more difficult for charter schools to fulfill their missions, making them less effective for students.
Arizona earns 7 of 15 points for “funding equity.” Arizona’s law calculates a base support level for charter schools, and provides equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding. But inequities in facilities funds and some federal funding disparities have resulted in school finance lawsuits in recent years.
Online Learning Score: 78%
Arizona’s number of online options has grown substantially since legislation in 2009 began allowing any district or charter to start an online program that can serve any student in the state. The state allows students to enroll with more than one online course provider, simultaneously.
Teacher Quality Score: 72%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers D+
Expanding the Pool of Teachers D+
Identifying Effective Teachers C
Retaining Effective Teachers C-
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D+