2018 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 89%
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 also 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. 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.
- Law passed in 1994
- 556 charter schools
- Arizona’s law has no cap on the growth of charter schools
- Estimated charter school enrollment: 185,900
- Virtual charter schools 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, its 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 for “operations” 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 to comply with reporting requirements that constrain the ways schools can behave.
- 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.
Teacher Quality Score: 62%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers C-
Expanding the Pool of Teachers D-
Identifying Effective Teachers C+
Retaining Effective Teachers D+
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D+
Overall State Grade D-