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Sometimes, it can seem like we hear nothing but doom and gloom about the state of primary education in Arizona — but as a new study reveals, the truth is that efforts on behalf of the state’s children are quite effective.


The recently released Education Equality Index placed Arizona’s achievement gap among the smallest in the country. Ranked fifth out of the 36 states analyzed, the analysis suggests that low-income students in Arizona’s schools are achieving nearly as well as their more economically advantaged peers.

“In fact, students from low-income communities in Arizona have more access to schools that are helping them achieve at similar levels as their more advantaged peers than students in the surrounding states of Colorado, California and Nevada,” state Rep. Paul Boyer [R-District 20] said.

Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent David Lykins stated, “The state of Arizona is blessed to have some of the most talented and dedicated educators in America. The professionalism and passion they bring to the schools and the students they serve is truly magical.

“I often dream of the magic we could provide for all of Arizona’s students if we as a state funded education adequately.”

“This study shows that Arizona is doing well at closing achievement gaps and supporting success for all students, regardless of economic status,” Mingus Union High School District Superintendent Paul Tighe stated. “Many educators and educational leaders across the state, including in the Verde Valley, are working tirelessly to help students achieve success.

“Despite being 49th in the nation in educational funding, Arizona is making measurable gains when compared to other states and national averages. This represents an incredible return on investment. Just imagine what we could do if we were adequately funded.”

“The beauty of Arizona is in its diversity of our people,” Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Superintendent Barbara U’Ren stated. “Our teachers creatively continue to learn how to meet the needs of diverse populations and work to build their strengths to help all demonstrate strong academic growth despite limitations in funding. I would hope Arizona soon recognizes the good work that is being done and support that work.”

Boyer added that the study’s findings underscore a “trend of positive news about academic improvement in Arizona, following on the heels of encouraging NAEP and AzMERIT scores for a particular set of highly performing low-income schools.”

The full report is available at educationequalityindex.org/arizona.

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