School Choice Score: 92%
When it comes to school choice, Arizona clearly likes being first! Approximately 45,000 students statewide are benefiting from the nation’s highest ranked state for its portfolio of tax-credit programs and the first to innovate with the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program (ESAs). Lexie’s Law specifically serves students with special needs or who are in foster care, and has a statewide cap of $5 million available for scholarships. Arizona has both corporate and individual tax credit programs, too, which provide opportunities to low-income students and others that meet guidelines laid out by the School Tuition Organizations to attend private schools. Arizona ESAs, which were expanded in 2013, allow parents of children with disabilities, children in foster care, students with active duty military parents and those who attend a failing public school, to receive a portion of their public funding deposited into a savings account for use for primary, secondary, or post-secondary education needs. The state also permits parents’ choice among public schools (often called open enrollment or public school choice), which permits students to attend any public school in the state if there is room.
Charter Schools Score: 95%
The Arizona law provides for a variety of independent authorizers, including the state board and universities, automatic waivers giving charters freedom from most rules and regulations, and financial assistance for charter facilities. However, charter leaders are beginning to see an increase in bureaucratic requirements imposed by the state, and in 2014, school districts had their authorizing power stripped.
Online Learning Score: 72%
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.
- Source: Digital Learning Now!
Teacher Quality Score: 72%
Arizona’s teacher evaluations use evidence of effectiveness and while student learning is not the majority criterion for teacher evaluations, it is a significant component of the annual evaluation. Teachers can receive performance pay, but the state does not support additional compensation. Teachers can lose their job if they receive ineffective ratings, but multiple appeals are allowed.